A few months ago, someone asked me what was my earliest childhood memory. It didn't take me long to respond, it was my third birthday. I was surrounded by my parents and cousins, I was about to blow my birthday cake. It didn't happen because the camera's flash frightened me. :p I cried and hid my face on my mother's shoulders. Fast forward now, the camera has become one of my best friends. ;) I'm still reluctant taking photos of myself but I discovered still photography, aka flatlays in my language. :)

My earliest childhood memory can probably explain why birthdays mean a lot to me. It should be special and memorable. Unfortunately, not all birthdays happened that way. I had my own share of sad and miserable birthdays. Years ago, all I wanted was a birthday cake. It took several years when a friend felt my longest shallow wish. :p Thank you T and A!

Having been born in December, I had birthdays that landed on Christmas parties. It's the fate of anyone born on this month. It's also quite a challenge to gather friends, everyone is tired and busy. While I appreciate the festive atmosphere, I would choose another birth month if given the chance. Hahahaha But as always, life has it's own plans. #Destiny Some things are meant to happen that way. I don't have control of other people and some of life's circumstances. On a positive note, life never fails to surprise me with unexpected sources of happiness.

Thankful for the gift of friendship and the rare times, I get decent selfies. :p - I have a  support system apart from my family. I would not have survived half of my struggles without my friends.

Spent a few hours of my birthday at Okada Hotel. If resources will permit, I wish to have an overnight stay in an overlooking suite. The fountain show is worth visiting, The pastry shop at the lobby also offers reasonably priced cake slices. 

My birthday landed on the workplace's Christmas party. This time, I had no bitter feelings. Hahahaha Even though I didn't win the raffle and someone congratulated me for winning the grand prize. Hahahahaha In other news, my crush sent a late birthday greeting. Okay na sana, but he mistakenly called me with another name. Hahahaha Speaking of which, a colleague asked me who was the workplace crush I'm referring in my past posts? I felt like a guilty criminal caught. I was also asked, why I don't mention him anymore? Good news, I have an avid reader. Bad news, why is she someone within my immediate environment? And of all possible topics, why does have to be about someone who doesn't like me in return? #Hugot Hahahahahaha  

This all black Starbucks tumbler is love! Unfortunately or fortunately, my control hormones worked. I returned it on the rack long before I reached the counter. :) Starbucks is releasing the nicest mugs and tumblers before Christmas. I also wanted the rose gold stainless mugs and the stainless snow flaked themed tumbler.. Too bad, each costs around Php 900. 

Weeks before my birthday, I booked a staycation with my friend A at Privato Hotel. I'm beginning to appreciate hotel staycations. The nearby Estancia Mall also made me enjoy our short stay. These days, I prefer small yet quiet and least populated shopping malls. 

Birthday = food - The night before my birthday, I remember having dinner at Taco Bell and finishing a slice of my favorite sansrival cake from Cafe Mary Grace. I also can't count how many times I ate at Tim Ho Wan since November. ;) 

Months back, I thought of giving myself the best gift.... to lose weight. I realized it happened on the first few weeks of November. Unfortunately, it was so easy to predict my story's ending. The dinners, holiday traffic and the few hours of sleep ruined everything. Up until now, I haven't had a decent exercise.

Selfie with my reluctant friend ;) my pet dog has kept me company after a long day at work. Thank you Gray! 

Pizza, pasta and a lot of catching up - Met my closest blog friends Leah and Mother E days before Christmas. 

A few more thoughts while writing this post

1. Presence over presents - No amount of present can replace presence. Although being present does not require physical presence all the time. Sending personal messages can make up for presence.

Looking back, I made a lot of network of friends and acquaintances over the past years. From my college friends, graduate school classmates, fellows in  church organizations, former colleagues and so much more. Unfortunately, I don't anymore feel the presence of people among these circles. I used to organize meet ups and reunions. I eventually felt tired of always taking the lead, being ignored and facing so many excuses. Having several networks of friends are great. But at the end of the day, those who made their presence felt mattered more. 

2. Still about presents, Christmas presents may not necessarily come in material stuff. Becoming a reliable and trusted colleague is more than enough present. Giving commendations to colleagues or anyone, who went the extra mile for us, will make as great presents. Instead of giving humongous monetary rewards (aka monetary tips) to your favorite sales personnel, answer customer feedback forms, drop gratitude notes on opinion boxes and report your positive experience from a specific employee. Sending commendations through customer feedback emails or company's social media accounts will go a long way. I don't know any person who does not like being commended once in a while. 

3. There are friends for keeps and there are those for learning experiences. I lost a few and I don't regret leaving the heavy baggage. I have more than enough room for those who remained.  

4. I read somewhere, regrets are temporary, fear is permanent

5. When you get older, mas mahirap lumandi - Surprise!!!! Hahahaha Yes friends, it's me thinking out loud. Age unfortunately adds a layer of reluctance, especially for females. From my end, everything becomes more difficult because I have a reputation to consider. Working in the academe requires another degree of decency. When I started teaching, I stopped visiting bars and other drinking places. I was perfectly fine with it. However, it's a different story when I have to deal with some members of the male populace. #Crush Hahahahaha

6. I still get offended and irritated when relatives emphasize my civil status at this age. More so, when I'm used as a topic during family reunions. (This is one reason why I avoid some family reunions lately.)  Yes, I'm completely aware, my egg cells are deteriorating and so as my "market" value to the male populace.

7. Marie Kondo influenced me a lot. This year, I took out a lot of my material possessions. It took me some time to give up a lot of meaningful items. At the end of the day, I felt rewarded after seeing more space to my shelves, cabinets and other storage places.

Although admiteddly, my room remains disorganised. Give me until before new year's eve to sort out everything.

8. So much in my life changed when I can no longer control my weight gain. One thing I learned, having the correct bra size mattered a lot. I swear, especially for those who entered the borders of being overweight and obese. I noticed that my posture and overall built looks better when I wear a reliable full cup bra.

There are also certain clothing styles I no longer wear. I used to treat myself with a classic Lacoste polo shirt every year. I stopped when I realised that it makes me look bigger. Also, I've become quite selective in purchasing clothes. Not everything looks good on me anymore. This is coming from someone who used to weigh 110 lbs.

9. A full body massage can improve your overall appearance. I noticed that my face and entire body do not look bloated after a great full body massage.

10. It's been seven years in the blogosphere! My initial intention of creating a stable and additional earning opportunity did not happen here. On a few times, I receive sponsored posts and freebies. I instead gained a few friends, acquaintances and a creative avenue other than my day job. I intend to continue blogging for as long as I enjoy it. This holds true even if my posts are diminishing over time. This year, I don't think I can even reach 100 posts. Probably because of the absence of travel opportunities. I've also become quite selective with my uploads.

Because of everything I said, I don't know how to end this post anymore. It has gotten longer than I expected. Reading it again, I don't think I wrote anything meaningful and significant. :p I always have a difficulty ending chapters. I have closure issues, I guess. Hahahahaha  Here's to more freelance works, beautiful photographs, great food, strengthened friendships and the happiest memories next year.