Mind the Gap

Have you ever felt you are not good enough, or you fall short on what you expect yourself to be?

There are days when we feel like we’ve accomplished a day’s worth of tasks in an hour, then there are days when our “to do” list seems to drag longer as the day passes. On those days we feel like we’d rather hide in the comfort of our bedrooms rather than face the tasks outside our doors, it’s easy to feel trapped and imprisoned by fears:

Fear of not being enough.

Fear of failing.

Fear of not measuring up.

Fear of not knowing what to do next.

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of what others are expecting of us.

Fear of not meeting our own expectations.

Fear is a valid feeling. Our worth as a person does not diminish the moment we begin to fear something. Sometimes, this fear comes from being overwhelmed with everything happening at the same time. With all the tasks required of us everyday whether as a parent, a student, a co-worker, a sibling, or a child, any kind of fear that creeps in is understandable. 

However, when we don’t do something about it, fear cripples us. It stops us from doing and being our best. What happens then is that a hole or a gap opens in our heart. Because our fear gives birth to many other negative feelings, we tend to magnify the unfinished, rather than the accomplished. The gap widens. In effect, even the little things which are easy to do turn out to be burdensome.

On those times I feel I am falling short as a business owner, a daughter, a wife, and most especially as a mother, my husband fills the gap. Most of the time, even when I am not explicitly asking for his help, he already knows I need it. I don’t exactly know he does it, but I will definitely not tell you he has superpowers.

For example, when work requires me to be out of the house longer than usual, my husband will try to go home earlier to attend to the kids. He also goes out of his way from his busy schedule to write and give me letters to validate the efforts I try to do for him and the kids. These letters come unexpectedly, but at a time I need to hear his words the most.

In those moments, the gaps in my heart begin to close.

When fear tries to emphasize the gap in our hearts, our minds begin to slow down. This is why it becomes difficult to think of the next step. Sometimes, thinking of the next step can be exhausting. So rather than pushing ourselves to the limits, it’s best that we divert our attention to something or someone that can help fill the gap.

We may call or see a friend whose positive vibe is contagious. We may read, exercise, play sports, travel, pause and pray, just so our mind will be taken off from the sinking feeling for a while. Once we identify who or what that comfort is, then we will be able to get back up slowly. Again, there are no superpowers or magic required for us to be able to return to our productive selves.   

What we actually do when we identify who or what fills the gap in our difficult days is we train our minds to look for what is good, rather than focus on what is not good. Celebrate the accomplishments, rather than dwell on the weight of the pending tasks. Find reasons to smile again, to hang on, to move forward.

Some situations are given to us so we get reminded of our limitations. When we get sick, for example, much as we want to work, our body reminds us that we can only do so much at once, so we need to rest. This is why for us to be productive, we also have to be humble to admit that we need people to help us. Nobody succeeds by doing everything alone.  

With this said, if we know we are the one who fills the gap for someone else, let’s not get tired. We are placed in that person’s life for a reason, and if that reason is to make him or her feel a little better on a heavy day, then I think it’s just proper that we do it with all our hearts; after all, we know the feeling of not being enough and of being down and blue, right?

To the one who helps me fill the gap, my husband, (belated) Happy Father’s Day!

To the fathers here in Neatropolis, (belated) Happy Father’s Day too!

To the rest of you my dear Neatropolis, just like what we always hear and read, no one or nothing is going to bring you down unless you give them your permission. Let’s learn to appreciate what we have, and witness how bad days turn around.

Enjoy the rest of the week! Stay Neat, everyone!

The One with the Label Maker

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I’m sure some of you would recall playing on the streets with your neighbors after (escaping) the dreaded siesta, watching a cartoon in one of the local channels, riding the bicycle, playing patintero and piko, or collecting and exchanging teks or pogs. We all have that memory that makes us smile or laugh, and on stressful days, we look back and think of how amazing our childhood has been… we learned a lot through bruising our knees and losing some games, right?

As parents, we try to recreate that feeling of childhood fun and play with our children. As much as we want them to do well in school, we also want to develop in them a sense of balance by allowing them to be just kids. “The days are long but the years are short,” so they say. Before we know it, our kids are already teenagers, (something I am so not ready for yet!) so we want to give them the experience of playing only children their age can enjoy.   

Many parents nowadays give their children their own space in the house, a space where they can be just kids: to explore, learn, and discover on their own while having a lot of fun. Allow me to share with you one of the biggest playrooms we ever did as a #NeatProject, and the things I was reminded of while we were in it.

Before #NeatProject

This huge room is a feast to the eyes of children and adults alike. For a child, this room gives a feeling of overjoy, very similar to that of a feeling created by a toy store: the child would want to play with everything at once, but would want to scrutinize the toys one at a time, too. For an adult, this room triggers precious memories, back to those good old days when #adulting is not a thing yet.

With two girls sharing this playroom with their only brother, one would notice the collection of dolls and the number of dollhouses and play kitchen dominating the space. The boy on the other hand had legos and toy cars, and both had their musical instruments and art materials.

While we were planning for the new layout of the playroom, something caught our attention…

Look closely at the bins seated on top of the shelf on the left side of this photo. They are already labelled.

Those labelled bins are for the American Girl Dolls. Each of the accessories that came with the dolls had a separate bin – comb, clothes, shoes, tights, socks, bloomers! While sorting, we somehow felt like we were organizing a real-life closet.

On a side note, we also organized the kitchen (the real one!) after we worked on 1 ½ days in the playroom. Before we even worked on anything in the kitchen, everything was already neatly labelled in there too! Upon seeing the kitchen, I realized that since labelling is the system that works for the parents, this is the same system they want to instill in their children. No wonder there were labelled bins for the American Girls Dolls, and there were colorful bins for the other toys in the playroom.

Here’s my take on placing labels in the kids’ rooms, especially in the playroom:

When we place labels in our kids’ rooms, we don’t want to make stiff and rigid robots out of them. We don’t impose perfection and a hundred percent squeaky clean room through labels, and make them reasons to punish our children one day for not following rules and instructions.

Instead, we develop in them a sense of responsibility, so that they grow up knowing where to put things back where they found them, and ultimately, to not take things which are not theirs or without permission, in the case of toys being labelled with names of their siblings.

In addition, we also subtly teach them the value of taking care of what is given to them. By putting things back where they should be, the kids are trained to read, to be aware, and to take care of everything they are entrusted with, because in reality, they will not be given toys every single day of their lives… when they grow up, they will not be able to buy everything they want from the store. It is important that at a young age, they understand how taking care of what they have is much more valuable than wanting to have more.

Because of this, we can also teach our children to share.

With all these taken into consideration, we now transform a play area into a learning area: it’s not just a place where kids can be just kids, but a place where kids can be responsible kids.

Things take toll on us parents. At times, we get crazy with the idea of a messy playroom or living room. While it can be overwhelming, we can introduce small steps that our children can manage so that while we put our attention to more important things such as ironing their uniform and polishing their shoes for the next school day, someone else in the house would take care of putting the dolls’ clothes and shoes back where they should be. More beautifully, when our house help is doing something else for our kids, we can count on our kids to do this small task for themselves.

This post is not just for parents whose houses have huge playrooms. It doesn’t really matter how huge your playroom is. In truth, it doesn’t really matter whether you have a playroom or none. What is important is that we parents provide an area, a space, or an environment where our children do not just express their creativity and skills. It is important that the space we give them brings out their responsibility towards their own space and the things in it without making them feel that they are punished.

When we start them young, cleaning up and organizing, as well as being trustworthy and responsible, will not be foreign ideas to them as they grow up.

After #NeatProject

In time, they will tell about stories of how their childhood taught them to be nice and kind to themselves and to others too, because they learned these through taking care of what toys they have, no matter how little they are…

Stay Neat Everyone!

Source

Have you ever wondered how many times the word Mom / Mommy / Mama / Ma / Inay / Nanay gets mentioned in the house in a day? 

Happy Sunday, Neatropolis! 

I write this entry with a heartfelt appreciation to mothers all around the world!

Whenever I am with my kids, I hear the three of them call me from time to time, either alternatingly or in chorus. (I’ll leave you to compute how many times I hear them call me) They call me for the most important and for the silliest reasons. Sometimes, when I hear the longest “Mooooooooooooom” (followed by a long rant or complaint) at a time when I am exhausted from work, I remind myself that these little ones are the very reasons why I am working hard every day. 

Surely there is no perfect motherhood. There are just perfect reasons why a mother keeps going.

Interestingly, aside from “female parent,” the dictionary gives us another meaning to the word “mother.” Although this dictionary meaning does not necessarily refer to a person, its meaning is beautiful and powerful enough to be used as a descriptor for the most important woman in our lives:

SOURCE.

Our mothers are our sources of love, wisdom, comfort, and strength. This is probably why even if they can’t hear us, we call them on instinct. This is probably why our kids call us from time to time too, because we have established ourselves to be a source of something – funnily enough, sometimes, the source of answer to a missing toy or missing anything. 

Those who are not our biological mothers but have become our source of strength through time are also mother figures to us. The people in our lives who have loved us unconditionally and who made sure we grow up to be our best selves are also people we call mothers too. These are the women and/or men who stand in the position of rearing and bringing up people in the best way they know. Motherhood, now, comes in all forms and does not only fit the mold of a woman who carried a child in the womb for nine months.

Many mothers have been breadwinners in their families or a source of income for the household. 

I for example, with the blessing and support of my husband, have become a mompreneur to pursue one of my passions in life. I admire many single moms for gracefully being the source of income and the source of everything else her children needs, no matter how difficult it gets.

I think about how wonderful it is for us mothers to live at this time that there’s Facebook and Instagram. We can easily share tips, hacks, and experiences that will help inspire one another to go about the ins and outs of motherhood.  

I am sure many moms would agree that no matter how much time we spend with our kids in the morning or at night, when we’re at work, we feel a little guilty of not having to spend that time with our kids instead. We worry too much about how we’re missing out on important milestones in their lives because we’re somewhere far from their side. 

There are nights when I just cannot go home early even if I want to. There are days, however, when you’d see me posting in my IG stories that I’m home before the sun sets. On days that I cannot go home early, my husband finds a way for him to go home ahead of me so the kids will have someone to play with. 

One time, when I felt I wanted to do more by being closer to my kids than I already am, when I got confused if I’m doing motherhood right by pursuing my passion, I heard the right words I needed at that time: “You are teaching your children the value of hard work.”

Then I get messages of love from mothers on Instagram, telling me how Neat Obsessions inspired them, either to organize their homes or to pursue their passions too. While some of us may be able to pursue passions and jump out of a sinking ship before we drown, some of us have limitations or restrictions that do not allow us to just “jump out.” Some, although having a strong drive to pursue their passions, are left with no choice but to stay where they are. I not saying this on the note that you are doomed for life – I am writing this to encourage you that the saying, “Bloom where you are planted” is something that you can cultivate in your life to make the most of your days as a mother.

Hard work is not just applicable for people who go out of their houses to work.

If you’re a mother climbing the corporate ladder, bloom. If you’re a stay at home mom, bloom. If you are in the period of transition from one job to another, bloom. Surely there is something you can do to learn more about yourself to be able to help the people around you. There is a reason why you are where you are at the moment. While you feel like you haven’t figured out everything yet, just continue finding reasons continue going, and don’t forget to “do small things with great love,” too.

It’s the small acts you do for your children and for your family that makes you a great mother, not the size of your paycheck, not the workplace you’re in, not even the gifts you shower them with. The little (or big) ones beside you – your children – are the reasons you must keep going. Looking at yourself with another mother in mind as a gauge will only make you insecure and inadequate. You are enough, momma. Your sacrifices are incomparable, and with that, your accomplishments are incomparable, too!

Mommas of Neatropolis, allow me to say once and for all that you all inspire me too – because I learn a lot from how you handle this all-too difficult yet rewarding job that is motherhood. Let’s continue being the source of light and strength to our children by supporting them in pursuing their own passions and dreams. There are holes and gaps from time to time, but we mommas can sure remedy them – go back to your source of strength (your husband, faith or your mom) so that you’re on your toes again.

You all are beautiful and strong, and to the people who look up to you as their source of love, wisdom, comfort, and strength, you are more than enough.

Happy Mother’s Day! Stay Neat Everyone! 🙂

The Eve’s Drop

Neat Obsessions with Issa Reyes

An episode of The Eve’s Drop

“Women talk. And it gets real. There will be drama. There will be truth. There will be questions. There may be some tears and more laughs. This is what happens when women talk. Hosted by Delamar Arias, Francesca Tobias, and Gelli Victor. Produced by Jude Rocha.”

Listen to Issa Reyes as she guests in an episode of The Eve’s Drop with Delamar Arias, Francesca Tobias, and Gelli Victor

#EasterNeatster

It was such a delight to see how our #EasterNeatster promo turned out. I did not expect to receive 237 #neatprojects! I’m so thrilled that the entries came not just from moms! Before I knew it, I had an album, not just 1 but 3 highlight buttons (because I can only store 100 stories per highlight) of not just organized areas in the house, but also organized drawers, folders, first aid kits, and bags! Some of you even sent multiple entries! Some of you even recycled things to organize their stuff.

To those who are curious what my qualifications were, it was pretty simple, they should tag the page @neatobsessions and put the #easterneatster hashtag. I am not technical in assessing who will qualify and get #neatapproved. I only have 1 goal in coming up with this promo and that is to encourage each and everyone that YOU, yes YOU, can do it! No matter how big or small, simple or complicated your project is, once you have defined your system and YOUR standard of neatness, then YOU are now in charge of your space. Mindfulness starts from knowing what is important in your life and we can start that practice by knowing what we truly need.

I have learned so much from this exercise and I am very happy to share with you some of my favorites when organizing. I will be sharing more of my #neatreflections about this contest probably in my next blog. 🙂

But for now, I don’t want to steal this moment from the lucky winners of this promo!

I only have 10 winners to announce, but I’m sure that everyone who joined will experience a #NeatWin in their everyday routine.

Congratulations to:

Thank you very much also for our friends from:

Happy Easter Neatropolis! Stay Neat Everyone! 🙂

Pause


I mentioned in my Instagram post a couple of days ago how I find it amazing that the Lord gives us this time of the year where we can pause for a bit to reflect and be in tune with our faith and ourselves.
I’m thankful that the Holy Week this year really is a time to slow down. My kids have just finished another year at school. Parents (and all heroes who are sending someone to school) understand that our children finishing one school year is a huge accomplishment, at the same time a huge relief. While there is another school year coming, we just can’t help but assess how much our children have grown in the course of a year, in terms of what they learned and how much they developed as an individual.
In this Holy Week silence, allow me to write about one night a few weeks before my son’s school ended. It’s a memory I will always go back to, not necessarily because it was a happy one, but because it’s like a page in a book that we’d always review if ever we need to be reminded about any of these three things: pause, choices, and family.
It happened on a night I came home from a long day in a project. I asked my son what his assignment was. He told me he accidentally left it in school.
I told him it’s not an accident, it’s him not prioritizing his responsibility.
I asked him his solution to it. That’s when he started to cry. I asked if crying was his solution. Much as I wanted him to say something so we can move forward, I was so shocked when he opened his mouth to say:
“I am the most rotten boy.”
“I am not responsible.”
Right then and there, I was crushed. I cannot even utter a word for a minute because this is the first time I heard him say it. I mean, he’s just 8, when did he ever learned to use the word rotten to describe him? Isn’t he supposed to used it for fruits? I took a deep breath and instead of asking where he got the word and making a big deal out of it, I saw it as an opportunity for him to learn.
I redirected our conversation. I chose to remind him of something that will pick him up from how he was feeling. I told him, “Remember the time when you were absent and we had to ask my co-mommy the assignment? And because you don’t have the paper for the Performance Task (PT), we have to write it on a different sheet? The next day, you went home very happy because your teacher pointed you out as an example because you were resourceful and you submitted your PT, even if it was written on a different paper.”
I felt my son listen as I go on.
“Now I will give you choices: Would you rather continue to cry and think that you are rotten, or we will do what we did before?
He stopped crying and repeated what I said, as if it was his idea. He said, “so wait, I get it, we can ask someone what the assignment is so I can do it tonight and submit it tomorrow.” Of course, I obliged and made him feel that it’s his “aha moment.”

It’s difficult to be a parent. Imagine: one minute you’re mad and furious, the next minute you’re all too concerned and worried. One minute you want to hug your child to save him from all the negative things he’s feeling, the next minute you remind yourself to be firm so your child will learn. All of these happen so fast you don’t have time to check if you’re hungry, you’re tired, you need to shower or you want to sleep.
In my conversation with my son, I realized that pause is essential. While it’s true that we can’t pause our role in being a parent, we can pause for a minute to think about how we can turn a bad situation around. The pause made it possible for me to think of something that would encourage my son to go to school the next day without him feeling rotten. If I allowed my exhaustion and his crying to consume me, we would not have arrived at a solution.
That pause made all the difference in the world.
As we proceeded with our routine that night, I thought of asking my children a different question instead of our usual “What are you grateful for today?” In line with what happened, I asked them, “What lesson did you learn today?”
My daughter said: “I learned how to share with Sabina.”
My son said: “I learned that I should be responsible and resourceful… “
My son picked up his lesson. His answer ended with, “…and thank you mom for teaching me math.”
That’s when I told my children that in life, they only have two choices: to think of the worst or to think of a solution.
I asked my son, if you did not stop crying and you kept blaming and telling yourself that you are rotten, do you think your tears will help you with your assignment? His answer was no.
I told him the following:
It’s normal to feel sad but it’s important to think of things that will help you with your problem… and that they (my daughter included) should know when to ask for help and not just wait for people to help or rescue them.
I explained that I got mad because I want him to come up with his own solution. I wanted him to choose to believe in what he can do rather than think negatively, so that the next time this happens, he would know what to do even if we, his parents, are not around.
Then I told them that the reason why we always ask them what they are grateful for is because we want them to feel that they are loved… that even if sometimes they feel like there is something missing, they will be reminded that we as their family will always think of their happiness. There will be people and circumstances that will bring them down, but I want them to remember that we will be there to make them realize that they will always have a choice to walk away from the bad and think of what they are grateful for. This is what I want them to remember from our little “Pause and Think” exercise at night.
I got really bothered with how my son thinks but the processing I did that night is what I was grateful for. I’m definitely not saying that my parenting is correct, but there were two things that night that made me feel I did something right: when my children gave me a good night kiss, and when they told me they love me.
It was a difficult night, but it turned out to be a meaningful one for all of us. It was a time we all needed for us to learn the value of pausing, of choosing what will make us better persons, and of realizing who we always have during difficult times.

It’s Good Friday. Is the crucifixion a story of betrayal or a story of love?
Where do we fix our eyes?
When things go our way, where do we fix our eyes?
When things get difficult, where do we fix our eyes?
Rotten or resourceful?
Death or Resurrection?
Defeat or Hope?

I pray that this Holy Week pause leads us to choices that will help us move forward to the right direction.

May our dear Lord continue to bless you more and more, Neatropolis!

Becoming a Konmari Consultant

Hi Neatropolis! 🙂 I am so excited to share with you my Konmari journey! Yep, you read that right, I am going to attend the 2019 Konmari Consultancy Training in New York! I hope you can all join me in this very exciting adventure in becoming (a) Konmari Consultant! 🙂

Rush Hour

I write this blog post with amusing recollections of how things unfolded from late last year to early this year. If you recall, in my last blog post from 2018 (Landers Expert Moms blog)I shared how slowly but surely I need to overcome my anxiety in front of the camera. As if heavens were pushing me to really overcome it, January kicked in with an invitation from no less than Rush Hour in One News TV!

It was an early morning call time on January 18 at the studio. When I thought the filming of Landers Expert Moms was already the most knee-shaking experience I will ever have, there I was in the studio, about to go live! May I just put into writing that it was so cold in the studio, and it was not helping me deal with my shaking knees. Haha! Talk about overcoming your fears!

Of course, no matter how much anxiety I feel, I am thankful for opportunities like this to share my passion to a wider audience. As I mentioned in the interview, I just wanted to share my passion through Neat Obsessions. It was intended to be my online diary of some sort. I never would have thought that in less than a year, my Instagram page would grow to a 46K followership – HUGE THANKS TO YOU!

As my way of thanking you for your continued trust and support, I will continue to share with you tips on how to jumpstart your journey in organizing in case you are new, or how to sustain your system in case you’ve already started. 

If you want to know more about what I shared in Rush Hour, this is what I prepared for you:

  • “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

I understand how organizing sounds easy-peasy when you say it like that, but when you’re in front of your space with so much stuff to deal with, the principle suddenly turns Greek! 

What do you do when you’re already in front of a pile of clutter?

I’ve mentioned time and again that for me, sorting is the heart of organizing. How many times have we told ourselves that we don’t have anything to wear? How many times did we feel stressed because we couldn’t find a pen? (or key? flash drive? adapter?)

The truth is, our things don’t have feet for them to walk or hide some place else in the house. We put them somewhere. We put them somewhere we can’t remember. The more we do this, the more clutter piles up. Imagine the domino effect: the more stress gets into us, and ultimately, the more money we throw away because we resort to buying things we already have.

When we sort, we see how much we have. When I organize in my clients’ homes, I make it a point that they see what they have – this is very important. For example, if my client loves cooking, she has to see what ingredients she has and how many of each she possesses. If my client’s line of work requires her to dress up, then we have to devise a system where she could easily see every top, pants, skirt, or dresses she owns, and how she will be able to locate them instantly without exerting so much effort.

This is how we create space. We put together similar things (tops together), then we find a way to make it easier for the client to find what she needs (black tops together). Imagine, if there were three different spaces where the black blouses are, we would already be emptying two spaces so that they may be used for other purposes.

Decluttering does create space, but it’s another story. When the client asks for help to declutter, I help my client. But if I feel that she’s not ready to declutter, then I don’t initiate.

  • “Filipinos are very sentimental.”  

We keep gifts, letters, souvenirs, all because they mean something to us. They symbolize love, hardship, and success, to name a few. So if a client already has too many black tops and isn’t ready to let go because some are gifts, then I find a way to store them properly.

As a Psych graduate, I understand that the process of letting go (of someone or something) takes time. By the word time I mean weeks, or months, or years. I respect clients who have the means to purchase, and who practically enjoy keeping or collecting things for whatever reason. They called me for help, and if my way of “helping them” will stress them out, then I am not helping them at all. 

In this line of work, I realized, I have to hold on to the very principles that made me start this journey. I cannot impose something on someone just because I see that there’s already too much of a particular thing. When my client is a hoarder, I put order to her things first. Then I trust that when she sees all her things, she might consider letting go. She mightIf she still does not want to let go, then I let her be. Those things are not mine to donate or throw away. 

What to keep and what to let go have always been my clients’ decision. I understand that people have their own ways of how to make their space livable, and I am here to help them become the best homemaker they can be.

  • “My dad is strict when it comes to homemaking.”

You don’t have to be a mom to be considered a homemaker. In fact, I got a huge influence from my dad when it comes to homemaking and organizing. Have you seen his “hardware store” at home?

You don’t actually have to be married either for you to become a homemaker. When you have a space of your own, and you’re finding ways to manage it, then you already are one! Take a cue from our Chinita Princess: (Kim Chiu blog).

Now that I am privileged to help homemakers realize what they can do with their space, I always take note that what I do is basically just assist them, not overwhelm them. I don’t want the process to be tedious for them, or for it to cause anxiety. At the end of the day, what I am after is for my client to be happy, for her to be more comfortable in the space she’s in, and for her to realize that there’s so much more she can do because there’s already a system at home that does not cause anxiety. 

I gulped down coffee (even if I’m not used to) after the interview. Doing the interview early in the morning was a great way to start my day, and an even greater way for me to start overcoming my anxiety in front of the camera.

Stay Neat, everyone!

Watch the interview here:


The Simple Things

Have you ever been bothered by a Facebook status post? You know those cryptic texts that your friends post and you just feel like there’s something wrong…

Recently, my friend posted a status on Facebook, I couldn’t help but message her and ask what was wrong.. She replied and said she felt like the world is against her and that it seems like all her plans don’t work. Bothered by the tone of her text, I called her instead. Her voice was shaky and it sounded like she got a bad cold. I asked her if she’s crying and she just burst into this wallowing voice and poured all her frustrations… I didn’t know what to say. She talked about her failed marriage and not having a decent job, her child who got sick and how it bothers her that it’s just the two of them together now.

I am lost for words because I couldn’t even begin to imagine what she was going through… Then out of the long pause and silence we had, I shared with her a practice that I started last year with my kids.

Every night after we say our prayers as a family, we would always say what we are grateful for for the day. When we started this practice my husband and I would always come up with very serious and deep answers. Like, we are grateful for having a loving family, having the opportunity to work so we can provide a happy and abundant living, having happy and healthy kids and the like… and because we say it that way our kids would struggle and always come up with interesting answers.

One time instead of me going first, I asked my son what he was grateful for and he answered: “I’m happy because dad bought me french fries” and then my daughter said, “I’m grateful because I have nail polish” and my 2yo said “milk!”

It is in that moment when I realized that happiness doesn’t have to be complicated. That it is with the simple things in life that we learn to appreciate what happiness is all about. There’s this one night where I said I’m happy because my husband deliberately struggled to crack a big piece of crab claw and afterwards gave me the meat while my kids burst into laughter. It was so sweet that I got surprised how a simple thing can make me “kilig.” I love the idea that we all got to sleep at night thinking of that one thing that made us smile that day.

I told my friend that maybe she can do that too with her child… That both of them can think of happy thoughts before they sleep so that instead of feeling the sorrows and supposed emptiness, they will see the beauty of that day. Sure, problems and difficulties will probably still be there but the thought of a person, an idea, an act of service, a feeling, that happens in a day would have made you smile – all you have to do is to remember. I love how my kids taught me what happiness is all about. That we don’t have to seek for more because sometimes those little things that bring joy is enough for you to feel God’s miracle. This practice taught me how to count my blessings and it is with my kids’ list that I learn contentment and love.

Tonight my 8yo is happy for his piano lessons, my 6yo is thankful for having her friends come over to play, and my 2yo said “mommy.”

And I said… I am grateful for having that conversation with my friend, realizing how simple life should be. I pray that she will feel better and may all her worries be gone. To my surprise, my son said, “Let’s all pray for her, Mom,” and we did!

Good night Neatropolis! May all your worries be resolved with the simplest gratitude.

How about you? What are you grateful for today?

The first leaves off the tree
The way you look at me
A thousand chiming church bells ring
The simple things are free
The sun, the moon, the stars
The beating of two hearts
How I love the simple things
The simple things just are

I heard this song from my friend’s wedding. It’s such a great reminder how the simple things can have lasting impact in our lives. That it is with the littlest of things that can make us truly happy.