STORY: Awesome 2014

I don't want to start the new year forcing myself to find inspiration to do what I actually really love. That's no way to start the year. But I guess I can't always get what I want, huh? 

Right now, I'm struggling to find enough gusto to write this "year-ender" (even if it is no longer year end) post to keep up with my now 2-year tradition. I used to love blogging. I actually still do but finding the energy and will power to actually do it has become increasingly difficult through the years. I feel that all the extra time and strength I get are automatically allotted to mindless, relaxing stuff like sleeping or watching movies. So anything other than that takes so much effort to even start doing. But I need to change that. I want to be more productive. I want to constantly work on the things I know I'm good at. I don't want to lose the "fire" inside of me. So, I will fan whatever is left of the flame in me and get through this post. Hopefully, this will set the tone for the rest of the year.

As usual in my year-end posts, I list down all the things I've experienced and learned, even the people I've met and said goodbye to. I'll try to be as organized as I can but since this post really is just for my own self-reflection, it wouldn't really matter. Here we go.

1. More travelling! Since 2012, I have been on a plane at least twice every single year. And the number of times per year has just kept increasing. It's not intentional though. I've actually taken a step back and consciously decided to limit my travels this new year. This is in line with my next bullet on finances, but I'll get to that later. For now, I'd like to share what I've learned from my very first flight two years ago - travel changes you. It doesn't matter how near or how far or how many people you're with, venturing into a new place does something to you that no other experience can. I've actually blogged about it here.

Anyway, I'm beyond blessed and truly grateful for the opportunity to visit just some of the places the world has to offer.

  • I started the year with trip to Cagayan de Oro-Camiguin-Bukidnon. It was a jam packed one which taught me that vacations should always be more than just three days. Any less would just be a waste of money and energy. I still enjoyed the trip. I even tried to blog the experience in detail but never got to finish it. I was able to plug in all the pictures though, so you can check that out here

  • That trip was followed by a family getaway to La Union. It wasn't as organized as the 2013 Baler trip but I enjoyed it all the same. We still can't get over our crazy adventure to Tangadan Falls. I've taken a mental note to go back there one day and find a less crazy route. Once I do, I'll have the family go back to redeem ourselves. (Note: This was the first time Jose got to really use his new GoPro cam. That said, I made full use of it and came out with this video. Needless to say, this started my new habit of making travel videos and other people's habit of expecting me to be official documenter. Actually, I've always been default documenter so nothing new there.) 
  • By June, I flew to Japan for the annual company trip. I know a lot of people have Japan on their bucket lists so I was a little surprised that I wasn't as excited about it. Anyway, it was another learning experience for me on the "social" side. I didn't plan my trip nor did I have a "designated" group to tag along with. I had to learn how to plan on the go and learn to mingle with different people. Read more here and watch the video here
  • A month later, Jose and I packed our bags for our second trip of the year. We flew to Palawan for our 5 days-4 nights trip. It started out a nightmare - we missed our flight (by a few minutes!) and had to buy tickets twice the price of our promo round trip ones. We ended up flying out the next day, wasting not only the ticket but our hotel booking. Anyway, it was well worth the hassle. To this day, I don't think I've seen anything more beautiful than El Nido's islands and lagoons. Every angle was postcard worthy. Even if everyone I know still tells me they like my La Union video best, the one from this trip is my personal fave because of the beautiful sceneries. Watch it here. By the way, we woke up from our dream vacation by another nightmare - cancelled flight! We were stranded on the island for another day due to bad weather. So technically, we got the missed day back but it came with expenses we didn't account for. Oh well, another learning experience. God I love travelling. 
  • We had a quick family getaway in August for my lolo's birthday. Just when I thought I knew what to expect from Batangas, we discover this little secret called Burot Beach. It was just a one day escape but I tried my best to make this video as jam packed as I could. 
  • It's like I had a continuous supply of money this year because just two months later, Jose and I were on another plane heading for Vietnam! This time it was a whopping 7-day trip! I still can't believe I managed to pay for all my trips and still pay for everything else (phone bills, car, everyday expenses) this year. But don't thing that it's a miracle I want to repeat this year because I don't! Haha. Anyway, of all my trips, this was the one that felt most like a vacation. Since it was seven days, I was able to spread out the activities so that we were never too tired that we couldn't enjoy the activity nor too relaxed that we got bored. It was a relatively affordable trip, too, considering the length of our stay and number of activities we got to do. This trip was my first time to go on an international flight without an adult. Even if I have travelled before, I still always felt safer when I have someone older to run to. This trip made me take responsibility for myself with just a tiny safety net in the form of Jose. It was another growing up moment. Watch our super video here
  • My last flight for the year was a surprise office trip to Singapore. I've been working for my company for almost three years and assigned to this international account for two and a half years. Our clients are based in Singapore so my bosses would fly in and out for meetings all the time... I just never expected that I'd get to do it myself one day! It wasn't that big of a deal, really. It was an internal meeting that had more to do with me being Filipino than anything else but the fact that I was the one sent to that meeting over anyone else was a big moment for me. I was trusted to represent the company and deal with clients and agency partners (all foreigners, if that even matters) on my own. It was also a learning experience for me both on the business side (so many new ideas and information from our clients!) and on the personal side. This was my first solo trip... ever. And it was an international one at that. I had to deal with all the little checks and details by myself. I couldn't forget anything or lose anything because no one else would remind me or help me. I was pretty nervous at first but come midnight, when I finally settled down and rested, I felt liberated. I couldn't remember a more freeing experience than when I was just tucked in my thick comforter, reading my new favorite book in the beautiful silence of my hotel room. Add that to the complete freedom I felt when I took off my clothes and threw them all over the place without worrying anyone would see me or more importantly, ask me to pick anything up. Ahhhh, that was the best half day of my life. If anything, that trip made me realize how solitude brings its own kind of happiness. 
2. Money matters. In 2012, I had my first taste of being financially independent (well, sort of). In 2013, I had a full year of enjoying the money I worked for. In 2014, it was a mix of indulgence and being smart about my money. On the indulgence part, I think I've succeeded. I think I even went a little overboard and indulged myself and the people I love too much. On the smart part, well I got myself life insurance voluntarily and I invested in a car. I also tried to build my savings account but that was a total fail. That being said, money is still an aspect of my life I'm working on. I've actually been analysing the idea of "enough" and how much really is enough. I'm hoping this 2015, I finally find the right balance between enjoying what life has to offer and making sure I have enough left in my back pocket to make sure I keep enjoying what life has to offer in the years to come.
  • Insurance. I don't know why I got it in the first place but I'm pretty happy I did. An officemate offered the package to me one day and it came at a time that I was looking for some place to put my money long term. Coming from the spending spree of 2013, I was very vulnerable to anything investment/savings related so I said yes right away. That said, I made my first long-term financial commitment. I'm still struggling paying for it even if it is a quarterly thing. Adjusting my spending habits to keep aside some money to pay for the insurance was harder than I thought. Anyway, I'm hoping I can properly allocate my money this year so I don't have to scramble or rely on bonuses to pay my insurance off. 
  • Bye Bogart, hello Miroy! This is biggest purchase I've made to date. Well, technically the downpayment came from Bogart's sale (which was such an emotional experience for me), which mom bought, so the downpayment really came from her BUT the monthly fee is shouldered by me 100%. I plan to pay off the downpayment anyway once the 3 years of instalment are up so by then, I can fully call Miroy my first big spend. Like my insurance, I struggled (still am actually but not as extreme as the first 3 months) to come up with the monthly fee. It's a pretty big amount especially if you account for my travels, whopping phone bills and quarterly insurance and look at it next to what I actually make. I knew I bit more than I can chew but the excitement and the ambition got the better of me. I charge this miscalculated financial commitments to experience and I'm going to ask 2015 to pay for it. 

3. Work growth. Career-wise, I couldn't ask for more. I'm in a really nice company and I've actually started building relationships with the people I work with. I can't believe it took me more than two years to see my officemates as more than people I sit next to or say hello to during elevator rides. I know more about them now than what their Facebook posts say because I've actually had real conversations about their lives outside the office. A nice little affirmation than I'm more than just seatmates to my co-workers is their little birthday surprise for me. When I started out in the company, only my co-adschoolers would greet me. Now, the entire office joined in on our little feast.

I've also made the big step of asking to be reassigned. I honestly like my current account and it has given me so much in terms of experience and knowledge and for that, I am forever grateful to my team and my clients. However, deep inside, I always knew I wanted to explore and find that one account that will make me super excited to work. I know that it's possible because my bosses seem to have that spark in their eyes when we talk about work. I want to have that, too. I know being reassigned won't assure me that but at least I could tick one more account off my "what if" list. I will only be officially moved this year so here's hoping my work happiness continues with that new account.

Another big work-related thing this year was my first award. I still can't believe I have an actual award to my name. In school, when I receive certificates or medals, though I didn't really expect any of those, I could sense if it was at least a possibility with grades to base my performance on. With work, I really couldn't tell if I would get one or not (not that I was even wishing for one). Sure, we get evaluated regularly but it is very subjective and each employee is rated by their respective bosses with different sets of goals. As an employee, for me at least, it's really hard to know where you stand within the company. So getting this award was an awesome year-end surprise! I guess I'm doing pretty alright after all.

4. The birth of AR Events. I've always loved arts and crafts. When I was younger, I would do it in my free time but when free time became scarce, I settled with viewing tutorials online. Since I dabbled in DIY during my debut, I've always saw the connection with my love for all things crafty and events. Add that I like making AVPs and everything just fell into place - I was going to venture into events planning. I started with my Dad's 50th surprise party this year. There was nothing extravagant about it but I did DIY'd the cake, the invites and the centerpieces. I also contacted the suppliers, scouted for locations and put together the AVP. Something about the whole thing gave me a different kind of high and I just wanted to keep doing it. Fast forward to August and I get a message from an old office friend about her daughter's party. What started as an idea of a part time job became a reality (sort of). My friend asked me to help her plan her daughter's party! I did it for free as part of my learning/training and it was a good thing I did. I made so many mistakes (which I feel the guests didn't notice anyway) that I'm actually relieved I didn't charge anything. I also got my sister as official partner. Hihi. Anyway, after that first try at real party planning, I got a second call from another mom asking me to plan her daughter's party. This time I'm getting paid. This time I'm hoping I don't make any mistakes (well, big ones at least). Since that party is in 2015, I'm leaving that experience for next year-end post.

5. Arte in the body! This year, I really gave myself the full reflection I needed - mental, social, emotional, and yes, physical. I consciously took note of all the things I liked and disliked and the things I wanted to improve on. Part of it was working on my appearance. I no longer saw treatments and other cosmetic ventures as a waste of time and money. If something makes you feel better about yourself, why is it a waste? And wanting to make something better about yourself doesn't make you petty or unconfident, it makes you self aware that there is always room for improvement. I don't want to sound defensive of my decision to "beautify" myself. I just want to share that this year I finally gave my outer self a chance to improve and tried laser treatment, hair treatment (although I do this every year), and a facial (only once but I want to keep doing it regularly this 2015). I also tried a lot of different products in between. On top, I also became more aware of my fashion choices. In 2012 and 2013, I opened myself up to the fashion world (I used to be just a jeans-shirt kinda girl). I tried the trends and found myself actually enjoying dressing up. This year, I've decided to get rid of the clutter and start dressing more grown up. Now, my clothes look so similar I could actually start wearing a uniform again. Then again, I'm happy that I know what works on me and what doesn't.

6. Relationship rekindling. Last year, I consciously closed off my world to a lot of people. I was just overwhelmed by all the things I was going through in my own life that I didn't have the time, energy and honestly, the patience to deal with other people. Part of it was to get rid of all the toxicity in my life (which I successfully did, btw) but along the way, I lost touch with some good friends. Towards 2014's end, I decided it was time to reach out and build relationships again. I'm now at a place where I'm okay with who I am, what I'm doing and where I'm going. I now have what is needed to build real relationships with others. That said, starting December this year, I set up dates with different people just to reconnect. I did not wait to have free time, instead I blocked off dates just for them. I realized friendships do not grow with left over time, rather, like romantic relationships, they need to be scheduled and placed in calendars. For me, this shows that the friendship is important and not an after thought. I'm happy with my decisions. I felt so much more complete as a person after expanding my circle. I realized I could only grow so much if I limit my world to only a few and that I'm missing out on so many more interesting stories and experiences. I'm hoping I can continue to build relationships this 2015 with friends and family.

7. Fangirling. I haven't fangirled over anything in a long time. Of course, I've always been a Disney lover and I regularly get pretty ecstatic about a lot of things but I haven't fell in love with anything to consistently fangirl over in a long time. I think the last one was the Sprouse brothers era which followed my Lizzie McGuire phase. Anyway, I finally have something new that I completely fell in love with - The Hunger Games books and movies. I want to give this the post it deserves so I keep delaying it but I just already want to include it in this list. It has awakened the fangirl side of me and since the last film of the series comes out in November next year, expect this fangirl to "stay alive" until then. (You'll get the quotations if you like THG like me! Haha)

P.S. I've also reconnected with books this year. I have never really been a bookworm but I'm a fast reader and I could read through most anything you give me. I prefer fiction but years of practice in school has made me able to bear non-fiction, too. Anyway, this year, I started reading again and I think I was able to read about one book every other month. This 2015, I want to keep this awakened love for books alive and push it further. Here's hoping a get a new book every month!

And that's it for 2014! I know everybody says this every single year but I just can't believe how fast everything went by! I can still remember grumbling that 2014 was just about to start and all my travels (and bond expiration, haha) were so far away and now they've all came and went by just like that! It's actually already 3am on the first Monday of the first so I better wrap this thing up. I just had to finish this now because once work starts, who knows when I can spare the time (and get into reflection mode) again. Finally saying bye to 2014 officially! You know nothing is official until I've blogged it, to me at least. Okay,  seriously, bye now. Don't want to be late on the first Monday of the year!

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