Month: October 2013

Organizing 101

As you probably guessed already, this post is written for me 51% and for you, dear readers (including my grandson) at 49%. That is because I consider myself organized, until I start looking for that receipt that I just filed about a week ago and couldn’t find it. Or after mumbling about my new prescription eyeglasses losing one of its screws and having it repaired – only to find out today that I have an eyeglass repair kit stored in one of my plastic “organizer” containers.

I try not to waste time and I’m sure you do also. So I keep finding ways to manage my time and activities efficiently by being organized and here are tidbits of how I do it:

-Check our mail (from our locked mail box) once or twice a week. Then upon receipt, they immediately go to my “IN” box, including the unwanted junk mail that shows up uninvited in the mailbox every work day.

-Having an “incoming” tray or an “IN” box at home enables me to easily find documents or receipts. If there’s too much mail coming in, I pick out the bills to be paid first, then other important documents, then magazines or catalogs I like and I throw away the rest (goodbye, junk mail!).

-If I have a little time, I call each catalog that I don’t like and request (nicely while seething inside) that they discontinue sending it. I only allot 5 minutes for each call.

-Then I file important documents such as bank statements or credit card statements in separate folders titled by the bank name or credit card institution.

-Are you addicted to constantly checking your email even though you are not expecting a multi million dollar business deal? I was until I found that Yes, you can check your email only twice a day and still be able to function normally.

-Make a list of things to do. From that list I put a star on the top three things that I need to do the next day. I update that list of course because I like drawing stars right next to the task.

-Sometimes I time myself. I allocate about 1 hour to entering daily expenses. Approximately one hour 15 minutes later, I move to the next task. Did you notice I went over 1 hour? I discovered that this time limit stresses me out so I gave myself “allowances”.

-Taking breaks – this is one thing I always forget to do at home (but amazingly not at work). Doctors recommend breaks even with computer work to rest your eyes and your muscles that repetitively pound on the keyboard and slide that ubiquitous mouse.

-Focus on one task at a time. I hate multitasking (except breathing while chewing gum). I sometimes focus on one task for 30 minutes to 1 hour and then take a break. Then I focus on it again. If unable to resolve it, I go to an easier task and do the hard one later.

-Forcing myself to work on the hardest or the most unwanted task in the morning makes the rest of the day go smoother. I don’t always do it of course if the hard task is not one of the top priorities for the day (in other words, no star appearing next to it).

To better organize my thoughts, how about I write a part two for this blog?





The Moderate and Healthy Life

Goaded by my wife to eat the last few pieces of teriyaki chicken, I didn’t mind finishing it off from her plate. We’ve been going to this Japanese restaurant since the early 90s and they always serve great delicious entrees. Then for the first time, we noticed they have a selection of dessert now. So we caved in and ordered banana tempura with vanilla ice cream. Coincidentally, this blog post was completed back then, ready for publication. Then I thought to myself, I am the prime example of not living a moderate life.

Today, we will review the effects of a moderate lifestyle to health. Consider these thoughts: Do you think that over 50% of the diseases can be avoided by having a moderate diet?  Experts and I say Yes! Can we exercise our way into good health while eating anything? No, good health is 80% proper nutrition and 20% correct exercise.

So how do we practice moderation? One step at a time. Let’s use me as an example. Hopefully, we all can learn from it.

One thing to consider is the amount of food we consume daily. I used to consume four to five plates of everything that is on the table in one meal when I was in my 20s and 30s and I didn’t gain weight or feel unhealthy at all.

I bet you that kind of diet did damage in a slow sort of way to my circulatory system which led to my heart surgery at a kinda “young” age. Young because the average patient for a bypass surgery is in their 70s.

These days, Ideally I should only eat a total of two plates or less for the whole day. I arrived at that conclusion based on a few credible sources: my nutritionist, my cardiac rehab program instructors, my cardiologist and my own independent research.

Those two plates should contain lots of vegetables, whole grain and some fruits. Meats such as chicken, grass-fed beef, lamb, and fish (the ones with scales) are allowed but only with very little portions (about half the size of a deck of cards per meal). Other seafood such as shrimp, lobster, oysters should be absent from this serving. Desserts, pastries and regular bread should be a no-no. However, I still insist on eating these at least twice a week.

I also learned that food retain their nutrients more by steaming it. Boiling vegetables remove most of the nutrition. Frying and roasting may be used occasionally. Eating raw is recommended. However, we should take our time chewing it. Some people can’t handle fibers of some veggies because they spend very little time chewing it.

I noticed also that cooking channels generally present foods that are thick in saturated fat, sugar or sauces that make them unhealthy. Most of the food advertised on TV are inexpensive fast food or junk food. Attractive and tasty but bad for our well-being.

Try to buy healthy organic food that are non-GMO. They’re more expensive but like any expensive items, they are of good quality. If on a limited budget: ethnic grocery stores sell fruits, grains, and vegetables at a lower price.

So there it is: Measuring the portions of each meal and ensuring that the majority of your meals contains healthy fibers, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are what it takes to a moderate and healthy life.

Bon Appetit!


Stick To It

Have you heard or read the following phrases?

“Live your dream!”

“Follow your passion!”

“Reach for the Stars!”

“Get Rich Quick!”

“Go for it!”

Nice slogans that generally gives you a push at least for several days, right? or maybe several months while you are working on that new project that you are very passionate about. But can they serve you consistently when you encounter difficulties?

Those are positive phrases which is a good thing to listen to. Well, all except the “get rich quick” because it’s a delusion. It is always good to listen to positive things because it spurs us to have a positive attitude in life. But in achieving things, I’ve noticed that it’s not merely passion that makes a person successful.

In my high school sophomore class, we had a classmate named Antonio B. He was of average intelligence but he was known to be always studying, spending long hours at night to prepare for the next day. Despite of that, he hardly breaks the top ten in exam scores in any subject. In one of our midterm exams, he studied the whole weekend while the rest of us studied maybe just one day total. Result: He got the highest score in the class. The whole class was so happy for him. He achieved a high score by persevering at what he wanted to accomplish.

As I went through several decades of life, I realized that most achievers I met are not the ones that won the lottery (don’t know of any), or one that invented something that made him rich and famous (haven’t met anyone) or somebody that married a rich person (I know of a few but obviously I can’t divulge it to you).

In fact, intelligence or good looks, athletic prowess or having money are minor advantages to being successful. The people who made it financially, academically or spiritually successful in this life are the people who worked on getting better every single day. My wife and daughter are highly intelligent but it was the grinding away daily at their work that made them one of the best in their profession. Is it their passion? Not necessarily – but it became their passion because they become excellent at what they do.

As an example, my daughter did not have a social life while she was in college. We had to urge her to go out and meet people. When she goes to eat out, it was normally with us and sometimes with very close friends. Yes, you guessed it! She spent her time reading her textbooks and doing computer research. She graduated with highest honors and she did it not because of her good looks Smile

People sometimes got passionate about something and they dive into it with all guns blazing. However, as they discovered the boring details that must be attended to along the way, the bright burning flame start to slowly dim. Then eventually the flame dies. Don’t let this happen to you. When you have a goal, ask yourself first: Am I willing to do all the things necessary to reach this goal? Along the way there will be difficulties; how do I cope with it? Then go for it knowing that it is not all about passion or energy, but more about the consistent action to achieve a little at a time until the goal is met. A pyramid is built one stone at a time. In fact, you can divide your project into several smaller projects, so that you can see the progress once you complete the first small part of it.

And finally, my favorite quote on perseverance:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge











You Humble You

As I was writing this, sitting next to the window watching the parking lot right outside – I realized that I may be writing more to myself than to my grandson or my readers. My grandson is pretty humble. For the past four years at least – I’ve never seen him try to gain attention to himself in any social situation or brag about any accomplishments. So he gets a lot of compliments from us, of course.

I regret not being able to post for the past few weeks. We went on a three-week vacation to Taguig, a city in Metro Manila. I was thinking about writing about my vacation but then this may turn this blog into a Pinterest or Facebook entry about my daily activities, and I want to avoid that.

Instead, I would like to write about humility. Maybe more to myself than to any of you. Did you have the experience of getting pampered by a friend or a relative on almost anything that you need? That’s what we just experienced in our vacation. We had two relatives that basically saw to it that we got everything we need and much more. We didn’t even ask for it. Whenever we reluctantly ask for something, they immediately produced results. What’s this got to do with humility?

From different sources, humility is described as modest, respectful, lowliness, submissiveness, or the quality of thinking that you are not better than the others (Merriam-Webster online). While we get pampered and nurtured into a comfortable stay in a developing country – my two relatives were exhibiting humility. Who doesn’t love humble people?

Aside from them, we also met a head waiter in a restaurant inside a five-star hotel who consistently paid attention to our needs. Yes we gave him a tip but it was no more than $3.00 each time. Still, we got great attention. He said he has been working in that hotel for 27 years. It would be impossible to work that long in that demanding environment without humility.

So how do we cultivate humility? Like the dictionary making firm explained “humility is the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people”. I confess that in the past, I had the problem of not being humble. For example, when I drive in the freeway and I’m going fast, I expect the driver in front of me to give way so I could reach my destination faster. I am of course in the left lane. The left lane of course is the designated lane for vehicles moving faster. But being in the left lane does not give me an entitlement that everyone in the path should give way. The better way is to switch to the next lane, speed up and try to pass the slow driver.

Years later, I have gained a little humility. It is a struggle sometimes because we live in a culture where being “gung ho” is the order of the day. But humility goes a long way. It fosters better relationships with almost everyone. If we think highly about other people, then we tend to focus on their needs instead of thinking about ours. If most people did that, there would be no need for wars or burglary or other nasty acts.

I’ve learned humility mostly by copying the humble people around me. My two relatives have been doing that to us whenever we get together on our vacation or their vacation for almost three decades now so I’m sure they’ve rubbed off a bit on me.

It feels great to be humble. Just don’t announce that you are!