Ukkokei Ramen Ron and Bacolodian Friends

I have a love-hate relationship with the holiday season. I love it because it is usually the time when friends and family get together. I hate it mostly because of the congestion everywhere – on the roads, in the malls and restos, ugh.

So anyway, two of my college friends invited to meet up for hot ramen one December night, and Tuscany in Mckinley Hill was the safest bet because we presumed it would  not be as congested as the malls. And of course, the other reason was Ukkokei Ramen. YAY!

K and F are my MassComm buddies back in La Salle Bacolod. K would usually visit us in Manila when she has conventions or gatherings here in their head office and F is my surfer, kikay friend working for a famous cosmetic brand.

The two haven’t tried Ukkokei yet and so me and the husband were more than happy to comply because we LOOOOVEEE Ukkokei!

We were lucky that the place was not crowded during that time. 

Back in their Arnaiz (Makati) branch, their specialty Tantanmen was only served for a specific time and I have always missed it. I was so glad that I could finally try it that night. Yay 🙂

The mandatory photo op while waiting for the food —

The service was fast and all of us ordered the Tantanmen (PHP390). It was a huuuge serving.

 We also had gyoza. Edzel is not fond of gyoza except for this one at Ukkokei and at Ikkoryu.

The famous Tantanmen Ramen of Ukkokei!

Me, K and F barely finished the whole thing because it was such a huge portion. Husband gobbled it though despite the fact that he ordered a much spicier version. Crazy guy.

So there you go! It was a fun night for all of us – full of catching up, chismis and laughter. I treasure these moments because as I always say, it is hard to find real friends in the city especially if you are not from here. This is the reason why I keep on convincing my Bacolod friends to stay over at my place when they are around because they bring the warm, Bacolod vibe with them.

 xx,

Balot

Coincidences

Last week, we had our first Christmas party for the Secret Book Club where I got to personally meet the members of our Facebook group. What’s more fun is that we got to recommend a piece that was inspiring to us and share it with the other members through an exchange gift! How cool is that?
So there was this particular book that stood out (at least for me), suggested by Mish of Momma ‘N Manila – a book by James Redfield titled The Celestine Prophecy. Mish shared that this was the book which guided her in her twenties — the age where most of us would be struggling to probably find what’s the meaning of everything as we were pushed to life outside of college and started to seriously deal with things. I think what piqued my interest was when Mish mentioned that it put things in perspective for her. I like these kinds of books. That is the reason why I love Coelho, Albom, Rubin, Gladwell, Maxwell, Covey and many others writing about humanity, finding your purpose, living your life… I know you get what I mean.
So let’s go to this book. What struck me the most would be this — “Chance encounters do not exist.” and since they don’t, we have to take “coincidences” seriously.

Funny that I should read this now because I badly need affirmation for this corporate life hiatus that I am in. And I would like to share to you some “coincidences” that are uncanny but yes, very encouraging.

  1. Three days after our Christmas Party, I chanced upon a hard cover of this title at a booksale! For PHP120! What a coincidence!
  2. I got some writing jobs and the assignments and clients keep on getting better as weeks pass by. The topics interest me so the writing comes easy. It doesn’t feel like work at all. As I said in my previous posts, I never thought I could earn from writing but well… here I am!
  3. Sales for my shop is picking  up. Because of this book, I have finished my marketing plan today since I was inspired to really take my business to another level by next year.
  4. I got a VA and social media management stint for health and wellness clients. I have been learning a lot about getting a healthier lifestyle to boost fertility and address my general well-being. The more I delve myself into health and wellness topics, the more I have the yearning to alter my lifestyle. Just as an example, I can now finish two liters of water every day. This is a great achievement for me because just several months back, I was a cactus. No, seriously! I could live without water (but not coffee and Coke).
  5. My offshore boss is awesome! She is teaching me a lot of tricks about business which I get to apply on my own. Plus, she promotes achieving more by doing less. To quote her, “you can work anytime you feel most productive as long as you deliver what is required.” Talk about efficiency and independence from a 9-5 work shift!
While these could be merely coincidences (Redfield rolls his eyes), it is a comforting feeling that I am somehow on the right track. How do I know? Things seem lighter. I actually get to do a lot of things, both professionally and personally. I should be obsessing with work now — this kind of life made little Type A me happy. But now that I am taking things slow, I am happier.It is quite surprising considering I am probably getting a fraction of my previous income but yes I am happier. I have realized that money is not everything. I love what I do because I get to write. I love what I do because I own my time so I can spend more of it with Edzel and Sachi and my friends. In so many other ways, things are not that bad as I thought they would be.

So what do you think of my little coincidences? How about you? What is your take on this? I would love to hear your thoughts.
xx,
Balot

An Unforgettable Encounter with Paulo Coelho

I don’t know how and when my love affair for Paulo Coelho’s writing began. I am sure though that the first book that I read was By The River Piedra and not The Alchemist. And then, I read The Alchemist. And for some reason I lost the book. And then I read Veronika. And then The Zahir. I haven’t stopped reading (and re-reading) his novels ever since. I lost track of how many Coelho books I lost because I keep on loaning it to someone, promising that it is a good read. Some of them were never returned to me (because of course, it is indeed a good read and they forgot to return it) so I keep on replenishing so I have the complete set! Yes, this is how my love affair for Coelho’s books is.

I don’t know why I love his writing so much. In his videocast, he said that he is an experiential writer. He needs to experience things before he can write. Maybe I could relate to that.

I always believed that my love for writing has sprouted from my  love of books. As time passed by, somehow the patterns interchange. There are times that I am inspired to write because I have read something. There are also times that I need to read because I want to write.

Ever since I quit corporate life, I have become more attuned to my creative wind. My writing is very personal, most of the times and I know that a lot of people would stop in the middle of the blog and say, I don’t care. I do not have credibility when it comes to food reviews because I have a black and white palate – it’s either good or not. I can’t do ratings. How do you qualify a 4 out of 5? Ihave a very unsophisticated taste buds. I would love to have a travel blog but I seldom go out especially with my condition now so…

And so, I realized that I can’t be a better version of someone else. As I said, I relate with Paulo’s writing style: something experiential. Something raw, full of emotions. Something honest and is a journey to self-discovery. My blog can’t be a version of someone else’s. I really didn’t care about statistics or page ranks. Or monetizing this blog. What I write here is just plain old me. What I go through every day. How I have given up corporate for the want of a baby. How I read to pass time. How I share my marketing knowledge to people who are interested at times. Those things that are essentially me. Nothing forced.

Which brings me to this — something that I consider as a defining moment in my life. In my previous post, I was talking about wanting to have some inspiration and stumbling upon Paulo Coelho’s videocasts. And I wrote about it  because it mattered to me. I wrote about it because he lifted me from my creative drought, like he always does. And I tweeted him saying that he is my hero. Which is really true. (To validate that, you can search Coelho at the Search bar and find that a lot of my posts start with quotes by him).

And then this —

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho re-posted my blog in his Twitter and Facebook pages. That is simply unbelievable (but incredibly amazing, too!)

When your personal hero does this, how would you feel? What would you do? For guys, this is like Michael Jordan answering your tweet. (this could be a lame analogy, but…)

And so I love him even more.

I wanted to capture this moment in my blog because as I mentioned before, I have a really lame memory. Somewhere down the road, when things go rough, I could go back to this day and I know deep in my heart, it would lift me out of a pit.

And of course, this is my takeaway as again quoting Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

My heart is in writing. I wrote ever since I was a kid but there were many times that I put it at the back-burner. And at this point in my life when I have almost nothing, my writing gives me my treasure. They pay me to write for blogs and social media. I was able to have a personal connection with my hero because of it. And while I thought that the only things that could give me happiness were a high-paying job and an uber successful career – I was wrong! Because nothing beats the gratitude I have for experiencing these things given to me by the Divine at this point in my life.

Cheers,
Balot

Classics at PHP99!

With the advent of technology, literature has become more and more accessible to a lot of people. Many of my friends have already shifted to the convenience that technology brings, thus Kindle and e-books have become more and more popular. You literally carry a thousand books with you minus the bulk.

I, however, remain a conservative when it comes to books. Not the purist, hard-bound kind of buyer but I still do buy actual printed copies. I like the feel and the smell when I read. I like to put dog-ears when there are really lovely quotes. Sometimes, I even go as far as scribbling on pages.

When Edzel and I had our house, I only had one request (one big request) — my very own bookshelf. More than a year later from settling in, I still have sooo many spaces to fill!

Books are something that I could probably not take out from my monthly expenses. Hahaha! Just this month, I was strolling around National Bookstore while waiting for a friend and I saw these lovely classics (which I had planned to read for a looong time) at PHP99! I initially thought that it was some pricing mistake because all of them were marked the same despite the thickness or the title of the book! And of course, I brought home some that day! *happy day*

The kerning and size of the text is a little uncomfortable but how can you complain?! It’s only PHP99!
I am planning to complete all the books under Collins Classics. I am not sure though if they are available in other bookstores but so far, almost all NBS have them. So if you are interested, go ahead and hoard some today!
xx,
Balot

Inspiration by Paulo Coelho

“You are useful when you give inspiration to people.”

-Paulo Coelho

I have been struggling with my writing as of late. Some call it writer’s block. Some call it creative drought. Whatever it is, yes, I have it. For several days now.

I browsed some articles to research on how to get rid of this halt. These were the tips I got.

  • Change your environment. (But it’s so dreary outside!)
  • Read a book. (This bed weather is making me sleepy.)
  • Exercise. (Uhmm..)

And then, I stumbled upon this – Part 3 of 4 of Paulo’s podcast on writing.

 

“What is inspiration? Inspiration is breathing. You put what is outside inside of you. And then, you expire. So, inspiration is something that everybody has, not only writers… Everybody has, when you do things with love. It is connected with this energy that we don’t understand. We can explain, explain, explain, but it is connected with the energy of love.  If you enjoy what you are doing, you’re going to be inspired to share it with other people. However, inspiration, you cannot guide inspiration. Inspiration is a boat and you are in this boat, in a sea. So there is this gigantic sea. And your boat is taking you. Inspiration is guiding you. Inspiration is this wind that is guiding you towards your destiny. If you try to guide inspiration, you are lost.” -Paulo Coelho

This is actually the first time that I have played a videocast from Paulo’s blog and my admiration for this man has been cemented in my life more than ever before. I seriously had goosebumps listening to him.

If you are a close friend, you would know that I adore Coelho. I have all his books, I have read and re-read them more than you can ever imagine. I couldn’t pick a favorite Coelho book because I love them all. And yes, one more thing, I trash all my Coelho books. I am really sorry but I do. I only do this to his books. You know what those are?

Yes! Dog-ears! My bad. But what can I do? Too many lines that I love. How can one write so profoundly? Almost every other page? That’s crazy!

I wish that someday my own creative wind will guide me to write something that could give inspiration to other people. In the meantime, please do enjoy listening to my hero as he has inspired me enormously today.

Check out the first installments of Paulo’s videocast on writing below:

Part  I on Writing

Part II on Writing

Part IV on Writing

xx,

Balot

5 Tips On How To Survive A Virtual Job

I have been slacking on the blog for the past week and it really frustrates me. I have been very busy and still adjusting to my new VA role. Anyway, it’s Friday once again and time for another #FridaysFive!

It has been more than two months since I have quit corporate, and yes, I am still counting. Well, not that often now but…

I have taken on some part-time jobs just to pass the time off – some writing stints, a part-time virtual assistance for an offshore client and some marketing consultancy on the side.

I have realized that the world has become so technologically advanced that there are a lot of things that you could do despite not being in the realm of cable wires, servers and other things you have to deal with when you are in a traditional office setting.

However, there are some things that you also need to do to make things easier as you take on a virtual job. Here is a little rundown of the five things I have learned on how to survive a virtual job.


1. Equip yourself with the basic tools – good internet connection, good laptop, an email account, office software and so on. 

Have a credible email address for your clients to contact you. You might want to get rid of that akoayseksi@blahmail.com. Most clients would require an internet speed of 1.5mbps and would usually require a speed test profile. Also, make sure your laptop is reliable so it does not conk out in the middle of doing your work.

2. Update yourself with the latest apps or software that could possibly make your life easier. 

Before I go on, can I just say that Google is awesome!? There is a wide variety of business tools that one can use to make a virtual office as efficient as it can be. Google Drive with all the Google documents that you need, Google Calendar, Google Hangouts for video-conferencing! Everything! It is sooo uhh-mayy-zing!


I just recently discovered Canva and I use it everyday. Now, I don’t have to open Photoshop and do my layouts there all the time unless it needs to be a high-resolution file or something more complicated. Canva is so easy to use and gives you some inspiration on how to create interesting images for your online requirements may it be a blog post or a social media feed.

3. Manage your emails well. 

Back when I was in corporate, I drowned in the number of emails that I received per day. It followed the Pareto Principle still. Only 20% of those emails were really for me, while 80% were just for my information or where I was only copy furnished. Sometimes, I missed more important emails just because of the sheer volume of the other emails that I was receiving.

What I learned recently is to let go of my chronic email checking. It is so easy to fall into the trap of waiting for emails from your clients. This creates unnecessary stress — the wait and the immediate need to reply.

I have set two time slots per day to check my emails — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I have also set up an autoresponder (Yes, you can do this in Google!) to inform the people who email me that I cannot respond immediately and should there be any urgent concerns, they can contact me through my mobile.

4. Take breaks every hour.


Working at home is actually more engrossing than working at the office. Why? Because you are at your comfort zone. No one calling you for a meeting. No one popping inside your cubicle for something. No unnecessary telephone calls.

I have read though that for one to be most efficient, you need to work in spurts. Take a mandatory break (I set an alarm for it) and go take your dog for a walk.

5. Plan your time. 

Every day, I still create my to-do list. The good thing about virtual assistance and these other online jobs is that the projects are results-oriented and are time-bound. There are no rush items (at least, not yet) and you are usually given a lead time (the minimum I had was at four days). This gives you ample time to prioritize and plan your days and weeks ahead.

So there! All of these are still new to me and these are my own learning from the new role I have started on just two weeks ago.

How about you, loves? Can you share any other tips to a noob like me? 

xx,
Balot