Leaving

My auntie feels sad that I am leaving Florida on Sunday. The past few weeks have been weeks of adjustment for both of us: my presence in their home has stirred their schedules, time, and resources. I have also been open to learning about their lives: family histories, new stories, new ideas, and their Filipino culture in America.

image

Classic Filipino ice candy in Palm Beach!

I have seen both my aunt and uncle open up to me and accept me as part of their household, their family. A bond different from our previous knowlege of one another has been created; for that, I am thankful.

image

My Florida family, without my cousin

Time always flies fast when one is about to leave. I leave for New Jersey in two days. My travels aren’t over yet, but once again, I am leaving a family I have called my own for three weeks.

One week travels used to feel so long; now, even three weeks just flies by. It will be August soon. I will be home soon, if I decide to keep my original flight dates.

image

Video call screen cap with my parents back home

My mails sent around the world have also begun to arrive; many of them in the countryside around the Philippines, one in  Switzerland, hopefully others in Dubai, etc. This signals that my time here in America is about to come full circle.

image

Mail to a good friend

As my cousin in California said, my travels have been amazing. I am equally, if not more amazed than she is.

image

From Lisa Frank

Not one of my experiences is something I have expected. I have been told that I have seen more of the USA than someone who has been in the USA five years. That simply blows my mind, really.

image

Handling a baby gator at the Everglades

My biggest prayer for the next three weeks is for clarity of direction. What do I do, where do I go? What happens next?

image

My fortune from a fortune cookie at PF Chang's.

Hopefully God’s clear direction will show itself in circumstances, through people I meet, in opportunities. I should not be anxious, as there has always been clear direction in my life. Doors have always opened when they needed to. I just need to stay calm.

image

Thoughts to ponder.

A Taste of Palm Beach

After today’s picnic at Riviera Beach, we head once again to the Atlantic to take a walk along the shore and to frolick in the surf.

image

Small but strong waves surprise me.

What fun, even if there wasn’t much sun!

image

My goodness!

The sand wasn’t white, but the water was so clear, we couldn’t help ourselves. I’m beginning to really love the Atlantic!

image

Travelling feet again at the Atlantic.

Too bad I’m leaving Florida for New Jersey in a couple of days. Will surely miss the Sunshine State!

image

Oh Florida, of sunshine and rain.

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil, you never fail to amaze!

image

Cirque du Solei logo

Watching you is like being transported to long-gone days of childhood, and yet the amazement comes from knowing that your artistry and perfection to the details of your craft is simply world-class. From effects, to lighting, to musical score and production, and to your talents, you have quite perfected entertainment and magical wonder. Bravo! Bravo, Cirque du Soleil!

image

La Nouba curtain call.

image

Amazed by Cirque du Soleil once again!

Thank you for this amazing gift of being in the USA and seeing Cirque again!

Art that Heals

While I am thoroughly amazed by Florida beaches, hike and bike trails, and the vast number of theme parks and entertainment choices, one of my favorite experiences in Florida is something I haven’t mentioned above.

One of my favorite experiences was dabbling with ink and color and paint again, in the art studio of the Lee Moffit Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. 

image

The beginnings of my masterpiece

My Florida family included Tampa in our itinerary since it was time for my uncle’s annual check-up at Moffit.

I did not expect the hospital to be such a hospitable place (pun intended), even for or maybe especially for the families of patients. Waiting rooms were stocked with puzzles and books, coffee and juices, and even light snacks. There were couches and recliners, and all sorts of comfort for both patients and their family members.

image

Coloring corner

My favorite place to while away the waiting time was at the Arts in Medicine Open Studio.

image

Open invitation

My cousin, aunt, and I enjoyed dabbling with each of the different art therapy activities there.

image

Origami art signage

Everyone is welcome and everyone is encouraged to tap into their well of creativity and express themselves!

image

My cousin and me

To help with encouragement, the walls were decorated with many paintings and artwork from both patients and their caregivers.

image

Art on their walls

The staff were quite helpful and accommodating too, and I was invited to join them in  coloring, string painting and origami.

image

One coloring page of a mandala

I really enjoyed string painting. It was like a combination of a Rorschach test and a paint-by-numbers activity that was less structured and very, very relaxing. I felt no pressure to be artsy or to have the best painting at all. It was just pure fun!

image

I will frame this back in Manila

I even made two masterpieces even after having been away from paints and brushes for so long!

image

Second attempt, this time with a square canvass.

I am excited that Art Therapy is a major part of the cancer research center’s programs for both patients and caregivers.

I hope art therapy and the release of creativity and creative energy will ripple through many other fields as well, especially back in my country, the Philippines.

At the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

I grew up a Disney girl, and not just because of the animated films and Disney princesses.

I breathed Walt Disney and the fact that his birthday comes one day after mine.

image

I read books about him, adored his rise from humble beginnings (Hello, Disney-Iwerks!), and reveled in the fact that his creativity was the result of much struggle for acceptance. He was a creative outsider, much like I believed I was, and I felt he was my icon.

I had only read about EPCOT in my youth when I read about the life of Walt Disney. I never imagined that I would get to see it twenty or so years later, up close and personal.

image

So here I am, enjoying being a child again, and enjoying the wonderful world that began in the creative genius that is Walt Disney.

image

With the iconic Spaceship Earth dome.

Among all the Disney Parks, EPCOT would be my favorite thus far. I enjoyed exploring my creativity by playing around with big kid toys that made music through hand and leg and body movements, loved the scientific explanations and world exhibits, played like a child in unique electronic installation, and basically kept al my senses peeled for the many experiences EPCOT has in store more the curious and expectant mind.

image

Learning about E= MC (2)

This Disney theme park may not carry the “magic” in its official motto and logo, but I think this was where I truly had a magical time.

image

The whole world in my hands, hehehe.

Running with my Imagination

It was a scene right out of a Criminal Minds episode mixed in with some Forensic Files music and a little bit of Grimm grotesque whimsy. Or perhaps my imagination was just running wild.

But that’s just what I did this morning.

image

Good morning, Celebration!

After our second night here in the small town of Celebration just outside of Orlando, Florida, I decided to get back on track with my running. In truth, I had wanted to just take a walk at first, but when I saw the bike and run paths winding into forestry, I began to increase my pace. I was excited.

image

Wonderful view.

When I saw the boardwalk, though, I hesitated.

image

The boardwalk.

It looked inviting, but the stillness and the lush greenery that surrounded it from all sides made me think of the scenes in my favorite crime series where girls get mugged—or abducted by aliens—or attacked by zombies, take your pick.

Still, it was early morning. I had my phone, the sun was out, and I was up for a touch of adventure.

So I ran into the boardwalk. But only after meeting two runners and an older female biker emerging from the woods.

And boy was I rewarded by my curiosity  . After a thirty-meter run, there was a lake and huge trees!

image

See!

The lake was so still, taking mirror-image photos was a breeze. I was pausing my gps every two minutes. I just had to take photos.

image

image

And so I kept running back into the main road and back into civilization.

But here’s where my workout becomes more intense: I decided to explore the other boardwalk to my left. So I returned to where I started running, and entered “into the woods”.

What I thought would be just another thirty-meter run through the woody boardwalk became a 500-meter sprint into a darker forest, with me imagining so many different stories with each stride: bears, alligators, an alien abductor, zombies, a human attacker. Yes, my imagination ran wild—-and I ran faster! Lol. Of course, I ran into another runner going the opposite direction, but the dense forest still had its effect. Finally, I get out and find this:

image

Where to go?

I decided my imagination had had enough of the woods, so I run out into the street, thankful for the sunshine and buildings.

image

Looking back at where I came from.

image

Yay, buildings!

Upon inspection, though, I realize I know not how to get back “home” and after asking a fellow human how to get back to the main road, I realize my better option is to once again —wait for it—- go “into the woods”. Not a very exciting idea at this point. Lol. My imagination is just so powerful today. But I press on.

image

Yup. I have to go through that again!

At the edge of the long boardwalk, I ready myself and start running— fast— as in race day fast! That winding run through the forest in a deserted boardwalk was the fastest run I’ve done in over two months. It felt so primal to be the only one running through the woods this time. I was aware of every sound, every glint of light, every flutter of wings and leaves, every break in the woodsy sunshine.

I couldn’t even stop though my legs and lungs wanted to. I was breathless and the faster I went, the more my imagination spinned stories! And yet, I had to go faster to get to the other end.

I thought I’d never get there, but after a breathless few minutes, I finally see the last winding curve. Home.

image

Finally.

I’ve enjoyed all my runs here in the US so far, but this one would be the funniest and most intense. I’m sure the boardwalks were safe. My imagination just has a way of running faster than I actually do.

Thank you, Lord for today, for my safety, for my life, for my adventure.

Hihihi.

Overwhelmed by Grace

I can’t believe I’ve only been in Miami two nights.

It already feels like I’m settling in: doing laundry, helping with groceries, going to church, making smoothies, washing dishes—just like home.

image

Church

Three nights ago, I was in a different bed, loved by a different family, in a different state, along a different ocean. California was my home: now I am here in Miami, Florida.

image

Hello, Florida

It is my fourth Sunday here in the US. Today, I finished with my “orientation” for the community and my surroundings. Tomorrow, as my hosts and new family are off to work, I explore on my own.

image

This is the way I recharge myself: through a warm shower, a good sleep, lots of naps, and time alone.

image

I am grateful for each day I am here. I am grateful for each adventure. I am grateful for each blessing. I am overwhelmed by grace.

San Mateo Morning

Yesterday I woke up in Long Beach, Calofornia, in a different bed, a different home, and a different family from the one I had gotten used to the past two weeks. 

Today, I wake in San Mateo, California, seven hours away by a long drive, this time, in the San Francisco Peninsula. To help me acclimate to my new home, I take a morning walk and deliberately get lost. Funny thing: I found myself going around in a circle!

(Photos for your wandering pleasure.)

image

image

image

image

image

One can never get lost when one is already pleasantly wandering to begin with. :)😄☺

I carry my heart with me…

It feels weird to be leaving this family that I’ve been a part of for the past two weeks.

image

my Murrieta family

Tomorrow, I take a bus to find another adventure.

Today, Alyssa’s party, is my last “big thing” with this family until I return (in many weeks) for my flight back to Manila, back home.

image

My neice and I getting ready for her party

They have been really good to me, this family, and the kids, specifically Alyssa and Marco, have been quite close to me.

image

Coronado adventure with these two funnies

I will miss Murrietta and Temecula. The flowered walks and runs, the wide open spaces, the cool mornings and bright quiet evenings. The picturesque skies.

image

Murrieta landscape

Tomorrow, I will be building a new “home” again overnight at my brother’s fiancee’s aunt in Long Beach, then meeting my mom’s cousin in LA for some city-touring before we drive off to San Francisco with wonderful views of coastal America (hopefully).

image

from Pinterest

From there, I spend two weeks and Fourth of July with different families then I fly to even-sunnier Florida on the east coast and get ready to explore New Jersey and New York.

So many different homes in so little time.

image

From Lisa Frank

Home is where my heart is, and for this American Adventure, I carry my heart with me.

image

just a simple reminder

P.s.

Thank you for the homes and the hearts that have gladly, wholeheartedly, excitedly welcomed me even as I am just about to arrive at their doorstep. God bless you.

New Filipino Words added to the Oxford English Dictionary!

Mabuhay ang Filipino English! Oh what lovely news; now I can officially use these while gallivanting across America!

image

Cheers, Pilipinas!

“Excuse me, where’s the ‘comfort room’?” Hihihi.

“Lock your car. Someone might ‘carnap’ it.”

“Kids, pack your ‘baon’.”

“When will the ‘despedida’ be?”

“Let’s get some ‘pan de sal‘.”

Click on this link to check out more new Filipino words in the OED.