In this corner, the winner is ….

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It’s not a festival if there is no music and dancing during the Vancouver Mural Festival 2017. More than eight blocks closed to the traffic to accommodate all the fun and festivities. What I enjoyed the most was the dance … Continue reading

Overdose of Satisfaction

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Just can’t get away from these two gals following me like kitty cats. If they were really cats and died in the process of following me, only satisfaction will bring them back. They are very proud of making street photography … Continue reading

June Brides

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It was a warm sunny June afternoon when we visited the old town of  Kaunas, Lithuania. Most old town has a plaza and a town hall for everyone to enjoy. Even a place to have a wedding celebration. First, I … Continue reading

Have no fear

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danger, Danger, DANGER! Animals on the loose at the City of Vancouver. Bear, Raccoon, Bunny and Bee. What is happening. Are these animals now moving to the city since we are encroaching on their habitat? I hope not. Fear not, … Continue reading

Out of Solitude

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As she looked at her own face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of “Solitude“.
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Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own. ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

solitude-cuba-4

In giving shape my view of the world having a solitary person in the foreground suggests that it is okay to be alone but not lonely.

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All work and no rest makes a man boring. Rest he did in his three-wheeler taxi cab. Who needs money when one is too tired to enjoy life. When he wakes up from his solitude, life becomes bearable again.

solitude-cuba-5

And what on earth is he doing down there alone? Fishing! Men prefer to reel a fish similar to playing golf, alone. So why do men enjoy fishing alone?  Because the fish are bigger and the stories are better with no witnesses!

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In a crowd of a million tourist, he just have to sit down with a non-verbal companion. Maybe he had enough listening, blah-blah-blah. Or maybe he is just like me observing how silly tourist really are. Or maybe he left his wife in a store shopping. Or maybe…

Ah, solitude, such sweet surrender.

A man and his dogs

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All he wanted to have is ten-acre of land and his dogs. For years, that’s all he can think and talk about. On the land will be a small house with a workshop to tinker around. The spacious land will be … Continue reading

Faithful to Our History

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Home of the locals in Havana, Cuba, is rife with history. It’s written on the walls, it’s written on their faces, it’s written on the wind. Fieles a nuestra HISTORIA: Faithful to our history. Let it be written, let it … Continue reading

Unmasking the illusion

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Yes, I am a smoker. When I tell people that I smoke, some of them are gracious enough to say that I don’t look and smell like a smoker. That is the kindest thing to say to a smoker. However, there … Continue reading

The Fisher King

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A series of photographs taken during my pilgrimage to India in 2014. Our bus was at a standstill during rush hour and I saw this man crossing the road. A barefooted man wearing a sack for clothing. He bent down to … Continue reading

Snow in June?

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Our city is really off when it comes to weather. This winter we hardly had any snow but last year, we had snow in June. It’s definitely off-season to see snow in June especially in Vancouver. Daily, I take this route going home … Continue reading

The Fresh Promise of Spring

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Spring brings fresh promises. The first day of spring marks the arrival of greenhouse vegetables and last year Vancouver celebrated it with a party at the heart of the city that I did not miss. The fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce and more greens … Continue reading

Rewarding moments of small creatures

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All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small

While I was drinking a cup of coffee, a couple of birds were reluctant to go closer to a pool of water because of my presence. I stood still and kept quite in order not to disturb them since I want their company. Slowly they took the courage to dip their feet on the water while peering at me. When they realized that I will remain motionless, they took the plunge.

depth (19)-MOTION

This is my reward, a memory of my stay at Kochi, Kerala, India. In addition, I am learning how to use the power of computer photography. My very first GIF, perseverance has its own rewards.

Melting Pot

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There is no escaping the traffic. One has to learn to be an aggressive and defensive driver. It seems to be the louder and longer you blow your horn, drivers will allow you to  converge.

Traffic in New  Delhi, India

Traffic in New Delhi, India

As I look out from the comfort of the bus, I asked Padre what is this area? “Is this the flea market.” The short response was that this is the slum area.

Slum area in New Delhi, India

Slum area in New Delhi, India

On the other side of the coin, this is what most people prefer to see, an illusion of history past. This area did not bring any emotional sensation from me in comparison to the traffic and the slum area.

Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal, India

At the end of the day, our group, all 20 of us from Canada, Philippines and Austria gather for a meal to give thanks to India for opening their doors and converge with them.

Meal time prepared at a Catholic diocese

Meal time prepared at a Catholic diocese

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Converge.”

Four Corner Angle

“I love my stories being multi-layered, and coming at it from different angles so that you don’t understand the film’s true emotional motivation until the very end.” ~  M. Night Shyamalan

pride angles

Look up north, look down south
Look west and look east
The street is lined with colour
pride street

The City of Vancouver created a permanent rainbow-coloured crosswalk in Davie Street village to cover all angles in celebrating city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and queer communities. This area is LGBTQ friendly.

The fun side of being a minimalist

Think like a child. Chasing bubbles is more fun that having all the toys in the world.
minimalist bubble

Think like a dog. A red ball is his priceless possession. Don’t even take that ball away from him if you know what’s good for you. Hands off!
minimalist ball

Share your love of reading with your neighbourhood. Have an outdoor library. Recycle your books.This will give you more space at home. You’ll get to know the people in your area. It’s more enjoyable to know them and chin wag not just about books. You’ll never know this might be the beginning of a lasting friendship.
minimalist library

These are some basics steps of being a minimalist.

The time when the real action starts

Nightime is when the real action starts wrote Ben Huberman. He’s right but not the night when it was a snowing heavily and I was the only person walking the street.nightime

Burnaby Public Library turned into a winter wonderland.
nightime

I could hear Pat Boone singing:
nightime

When it snows, ain’t it thrillin’?
Tho’ your nose, gets a chillin’
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland.

A post dedicated to a person who cannot wait for snow. I promised Joanne of Mum how much longer that I will send her a snow flake in the mail.

 

Humanity’s Greatest Desire

Coming from a big family, in part, I would think that I can get away from people during  a pilgrimage.  Wrong. What I experience is a sea of humanity. We all have this desire to belong and to connect.

After pouring our heart and soul to our devotion, we also have something in common that is totally different. Guess what?  SHOPPING!

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar – Turkey

and this is my family, in part.

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

After all of these events, I spend  a great deal of “me” time.

No strings attached. A Random Act of Kindness

Question: How do you accept and react to kindness?

A wonderful experience happened to me this Saturday on the way to the mall.

Two children, a boy and a girl came running towards me with bottles on their hands if I want to have bottled water.

It was a surprising gesture and unsure whether this was for real. I wondered if they were doing fund-raising. I knelt to their level to ask them where their parents are and how much a bottle of water is.

As I was about to ask them, two adult women came up to me explaining what the children are doing.

“We are teaching the children to give without anything in return. We are teaching people to accept without giving in return.”

What a noble idea. A random act of kindness.

This incident excited me, and in an instant I wanted to ask these strangers a million and one questions: how did you do it; what made you do it; what are the reactions did you get from other people; how many bottles did you give away; how many bottles do you have left; what time did you start; and on and on and on…

Finally, I gave them a chance to respond to my questions.

Two mothers bought 700-16oz bottled water. Placed a sticker on all bottles with five different quotes:

  1. Smile at everyone, you’ll never know when someone may need it.
  2. If Plan A does not work, there are 25 more letters in the alphabets.
  3. Have a thirst for life. Every day is filled with possibilities.
  4. In your thirst for knowledge, be sure you don’t drown in all the information.
  5. Dig your well before you’re thirsty.

 

The bottle I have has quote #5.

A sudden change of attitude opened up between me, the mothers and the children. We are no longer stranger to each other.  We were having such a great time chin wagging, and I ended up helping them give away the rest of the bottled water.

One young lady was so thankful that she happily accepted the water and said it was the best thing that happened to her all day since she had a “shitty” day at work.

A man refused and walked away saying no thanks; it’s not a bottle of beer.

A couple kept on bowing to us in gratitude. They must be Japanese or Korean or something.

When it was all done, the children and I were giving each other high-five. It was so much fun. I think I had more fun doing this than the mothers and the children. It was grand, just splendid.

These mothers provided a good example to their children how to be giving and continue giving 700 times fold. I told the children that I can’t wait to tell the children in my family about their good deeds. They were beaming with joy.

In retrospect, water is like kindness. Kindness must be continuously flowing like water. Water that is not moving becomes stagnant. It may be bottled, but in the long run, the water becomes cloudy, less appealing to drink.  Water is life-giving.

It was time to say goodbye and Michael astonished me by hugging my waistline. He was that small. Then Raine followed. The three of us were hugging each other. I was speechless.  The parents and I hugged each other as well, separately. No group hugs for adults.

I was full of gratitude to the two children, Raine and Michael, for their infectious kindness. Thanking them for stopping me in my tracks.
R and M

To the mothers, Stephanie and Jasmines, thank you for being a good example to your children. May our water of kindness remain free-flowing from one person to another.

The empty water bottle will remain on my table as a reminder to be kind, to be giving and to accept graciously, with no strings attached.

Less is More

Let Go and Let God

Let Go and Let God

The Spirituality of Subtraction

Meister Eckhart said, “The spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition.” All great spirituality is about letting go. But we have grown up with a capitalist worldview, and it has blinded our spiritual seeing. We tend to think at almost every level that more is better, even though, as E. F. Schumacher said years ago, “less is more.”

There is an alternative worldview. There is a worldview in which all of us can succeed. It isn’t a win/lose capitalist worldview where only a few win and most lose. It’s a win/win worldview—if we’re willing to let go and if we’re willing to recognize that this, right here, right now, is enough. This is all I need. But that can only be true if we move to the level of being and away from the levels of doing and acquiring.

True religion is always pointing us toward being. At that level we experience enoughness, abundance, more than enoughness. If we’ve never been introduced to that world, we will of course try to satisfy ourselves with possessions, accomplishments, important initials after our names, fancy cars, beautiful homes—none of which are bad in themselves. They’re only unable to satisfy; and that’s exactly why we need more and more of them. As the Twelve-Steppers say, “We need more and more of what does not work.” If it worked, we would not need more of it!

“Gateway to Silence: Let go and let God.”

Adapted from The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis
Meditation by: Richard Rohr

Lazy days of summer, loving it

 (click to listen to the song of Nat King Cole) Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Loving it.

Doing Love

Man on a wheel chair

Often we speak about love as if it is a feeling.
But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving,
we may never learn to love well.

The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving,
but our loving cannot be based in that feeling.

To love is to think, speak, and act according
to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely
loved by God and called to make that love
visible in this world.

Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is.
When we “do” love, even if others are not able
to respond with love, we will discover that
our feelings catch up with our acts.

~ Henri Nouwen

Between Mom and Dad

Between Mon and Dad

Between Mon and Dad is Abby.

Abby is a rabbit. In the eyes of these homeless couple coming from Toronto, Abby is their baby. Having Abby in their life brings out their humanity to extend their love to take care of an animal even though they are homeless.

I took this photo in between times on my way home carrying with me a Canon PowerShot SD1000.  It’s just an ordinary camera that helps me get out of my head and self.  Having a camera focuses my thoughts outward rather than inward. Photography is a beautiful technique to relieve mental illness.

Just for fun, I submitted it to National Geographic’s assignment “The Animals We Love” titled Mom, Dad and Baby Abby.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail stating “a National Geographic editor favorited your photo, Mom, Dad and Baby Abby, on Your Shot. Robin Schwartz added your photo Mom, Dad and Baby Abby as a favorite.”

Needless to say, I am elated.

Out of 14,953 submissions, this is one of her 1,401 favorites.  Thank you, Robin!

Mother Less Child

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It’s Mother’s Day. I don’t feel like celebrating, not because my Mother has long since gone, not because I do not have children, but because of mother less child.

Every Friday, on the way home, at a corner street, I see a group of people with a baby stroller with no baby in it. Instead pictures of a baby inside of a womb occupies the stroller.  Out of curiosity, I asked  what is the purpose of their presence and jokingly asked where the real baby is?

“We are here to educate people.”

“About what? “

“Abortion.”

“Abortion? Why here?”

“See that building across the street?  Above that bank is an abortion clinic.”

It was shocking for me to hear that an abortion clinic existed in this area.

“We are standing outside the bubble zone.  By law, we are not allowed to protest in front of the building.”

We discussed about abortion for a good half hour while pedestrians passed by in a hurry to catch the bus or the train.  I walked away thinking which one of these women that just passed us by just walked out of the building  after an abortion.  I cannot tell.

“See those men on the other side of the street?  They are with us as well.  They are there to pray for the women and the aborted babies.”

“I will keep your group in my prayers as well as those women and the dead babies.” And I bid farewell.

With this whole incident, I reflected the life of Mother Mary who had an immaculate conception.  This is more of what if situation.

  • What if Mother Mary aborted the miraculous conception?
  • If she did abort the child, then there would be no Jesus Christ.
  • If there is no Jesus Christ, then there is no Christianity.
  • If there is no Christianity, then there would have no reverence for life.

I am thankful that Mother Mary said YES.

 

Prayer for Reverence for Life

Almighty God, giver of all that is good, we thank You for the precious gift of human life:
For life in the womb, coming from your creative power,
For the life of children, making us glad with their freshness and promise,
For the life of young people, hoping for a better world,
For the life of people who are disabled, teaching us that every life has value,
For the life of the elderly, witnessing to the ageless values of patience and wisdom.

Like Blessed Mary, may we always say “YES” to Your gift. May we defend it and promote it from conception to its natural end. And bring us at last, O Father, to the fullness of eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

I am not alone

alone

Right now,
there are people all over the world
who are just like you.

They’re lonely.
They’re missing somebody.
They’re in love with someone
they probably shouldn’t be in love with.

They have secrets you wouldn’t believe.
They wish and they dream and they hope,
and they look out the window whenever they’re
in the car or on a bus or a train and they watch people
on the streets and wonder what they’ve been through.
They wonder if there are people out there like them.

They’re like you,
and you could tell them everything
and they would understand.

And right now,
they’re sitting here reading these words,
and I’m writing this for you
so you don’t feel alone anymore.

Source: Lessons Learned In Life

Sakura for Jae

Here’s something to look forward to when you visit Canada in spring.  I kid you not, Sakura is all over the place in Canada.

This is just one tree.  Imagine walking underneath the boulevard all lined up with Sakura, it’s snowing pink petals.
sakura jae

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.” 
― Kobayashi IssaPoems

This is nothing in comparison to my fascination with this yellow flower when I first arrived here in Canada. I just love these Lions of the Spring. One cannot appreciate the beauty of Cherry blossoms without having to fall for these beast.
Lions of the Spring

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring.

Easter is Way Better than Christmas

It must be the season of the year that Easter feels way better than Christmas.

After being all coop up inside the house from rainy fall to cold winter, spring fever infected our family.  Of course, the adults instigated all these fun and games.

First we imprisoned the young ones and just let them have a look what the outside world looks like.  Ha, the bunnies are hopping all over the place.

With the youngest as high as our knees, we make sure that it’s feasible for this young tyke to find all the goodies at his eye level.  Basically we just threw the goodies all over the ground.  For the older children, they might just have to climb the tree to pluck the egg.
Collage Easter

The baby had a good five minutes head start before the older children.  We did help baby to find some eggs hidden under the leaves and on the cars but he is more interested on picking the ornaments planted on the ground.
Collage The Hunt

Oh what a crazy family I belong.  Crazy that we are, there is so much love, support and faith in this clan.

We were all in the background, cheering and egging one another.  Cars have slowed down to watch what’s the commotion was all about.  Neighbors were too curious and inquisitive what’s going on.  My sister was kind enough to bring them food since they are too shy to join the festivity.

Actually, anyone can join.  Easter Egg hunting has nothing to do with race or creed.

After the ruckus and after 40 days of NPO (nothing per orem), what it means basically is fasting, we have to feast.  Food, drinks and fattening stuff to replenish all that fat we shed.

Easter is definitely way better than Christmas.  No obligatory presents, no dress up, no sweat.  It’s all for the glory of celebrating that rites of a living God.

Life on the street where I live

After a long wet coast winter weather, the street life in Vancouver springs into action.  Yes, spring is definitely in the air, and we celebrated it with a hug with the resident Vancouver’s critters. There were five of them, and I met four cute, soft and furry critters that came out of their hibernation giving out hugs.

This is Duh Bear, not a grizzly bear but a gentle softie softer than toilet paper.  He definitely dislikes any hunting trophy.

A reluctant hugger

A reluctant hugger

Hugs for Hunger is a fundraising event to welcome spring.  1 Hug = $1 donated by the sponsor to help the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.  All we have to do is give the critters a hug.

A Bear Hug

A Bear Hug

I hug all four of them, and $4 was donated to the Food Bank.  What a lovely way to spend the day watching passersby giving hugs.  It was definitely a joyful and happy day.

A bunny hug with pink ears.  This one left me hopping for more hug and, of course, he accepts a bribe of carrot sticks for more squeezes.

Bunny Hug

Bunny Hug

To hug and Bee hug has a positive effect on one’s well-being.  If you get stung, you will feel this tingly butterfly feeling in your chest and tummy.  Oh, what a lovely feeling sweeter than honey.

Bee Hug

Bee Hug

And here’s the Raccoon coming towards me ready to steal my heart away or maybe the garbage that I carry.

I'm coming to get you.

I’m coming to get you.

I think the Raccoon has already been to the garbage since I don’t see any takers from him.  Just take a look at this one running away from him.  Pepe le phew!

No, no, no, Mr. Stinker

No, no, no, Mr. Stinker

Finally, someone took pity on him and gave him a Hug for Hunger.

All Good.

All Good.

It was a very successful day.

“The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany.”  ― Rebecca SolnitWanderlust: A History of Walking