That thing called funk

I recently blogged about the emotional letdown that I have been going through a week before my birthday. Some of my friends both from Jakarta and Manila have privately reached out to me to check how I was doing.

To those friends: you know who you are. Thank you. 

Although I’m not back 100% just yet, things are getting better. Every day, I’m trying to make an effort to make things better, to feel better. Writing about it was an essential part of the healing and recovery process. First, I had to admit that things were not as rosy as how they seemed to be.

I needed to acknowledge that I was suffering from a form of depression so that I can move on, so to speak.

This whole episode started a few months ago, when I began working an average of 55-60 work hours per week. I felt like a hamster running in circles, with no end in sight, with no gains perceived from whatever I’ve been doing.

Sleep became elusive. Either I had difficulty falling into it or I found myself waking up at 3 or 4 am, not being able to go back to sleep again. I lost my appetite and my usual food cravings where nowhere to be found. If there was one benefit from it, I lost a little bit of the excess weight.

dark clouds above

Image from Pinterest

On most days, I found myself exhausted. Tasks at work that I can do in a jiffy, even with my eyes closed, took longer than usual to finish. I stopped reading my books and it took me hours to peel myself off the couch to do my usual workout routine that I know so well and which I used to look forward to doing.

I lost my joie de vivre. In most parts of the day, it felt like there was a dark cloud hovering above me, following me around wherever I went. This pesky dark cloud did not want to leave me out of its sight.

I started feeling sad for no particular reason, hiding my tears as I locked myself in the bathroom to weep, whimpering as quietly as I can manage so that my husband won’t hear me. I didn’t want him to worry about me and I didn’t want to talk about it.

My friends didn’t know any better, as I never shared what I have been going through. It’s not me to talk about my issues with friends, even with the inner circle.

In the process, I’ve alienated my family and my best friends. They wanted to know what’s going on, but I wanted to shield them from the negativity. I became unresponsive and I shied away from conversations that will lead them to ask what’s been happening.

In a way, I somehow felt guilty getting depressed. I have a great life and for some people, I have nothing else I should be complaining about. My life isn’t perfect but I have a supportive husband, a good job, a happy family life and an amazing circle of friends. Arshad and I are living a good expat life in a market that is replete with opportunities. We can travel and go to places we like, even randomly selecting islands where we can quickly and quietly spend the weekend.

That’s why I never talked about it. To me, it seemed frivolous to complain, to even feel what I’m feeling. It felt like an unfair sense of entitlement, that I had no justifiable reason to get depressed.

An aunt even posted on my Facebook: “April, you are blessed beyond compare.” But in my head, I was asking myself: Am I? If I am, why I am feeling so rotten?

Luckily, some of my friends who have gone through depression have reached out to me privately to tell me that they’ve been through the same thing. Some suffered through it silently, whilst some sought the counsel of friends. Others got professional help.

One of my trusted friends gently told me that I shouldn’t feel obligated to always do everything for everyone, which she felt was what I was trying to do.

She said:

“Even heroes have the right to bleed.”

And that it was okay to acknowledge how I was feeling and my current state of mind.

Denial was a river in Egypt that I had to swim through so that I can finally accept where I am and how I’m feeling so I can properly deal with it. The moment that I started recognizing my depression for what it is and the reasons causing them, the days started to get better.

I forced myself to read my books and deliberately searched for literature that can help me deal with this. I slowly clawed my way out of my misery by picking up my fitness routine again, with the hopes that my endorphin levels will shoot up and give me quick bursts of happiness.

For the close friends who were incessantly badgering me to talk about it (they have the best of intentions for me, God bless them), I made an effort to share with them, albeit in general terms, what has been happening.

The crying bouts became less and less frequent, although I still get melancholic every now and then. Whenever I feel that I’m going to crash again, I take a moment to acknowledge the emotions and deal with them. I realized there was no point in trying to shove it down further. It only made me feel worse.

My productivity started picking up again and I can think more clearly. When I spend time with friends, I genuinely enjoy the company and the conversations. Oh, my appetite came back (darn it!).

As I walked home tonight, I looked up and saw the star-sprinkled sky, which is quite rare these past few nights in Jakarta as it had been raining. I whispered a small prayer of thanks and told myself:

“It will only get better from here.” 

Bali, in perspective

Again, my favorite quote from Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop: Travel is like a university without walls

Travel teaches you things that you can never learn within the confines of the four walls of a classroom.  You learn from experience, from meeting other people and from the different cultures that you encounter along the way.

You get a new perspective. Or it renews a good perspective that you already had but you had lost along the way.

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Bali sunset, Seminyak beachfront

In my case, it was the latter.

My recent trip to Bali was a gentle reminder of an outlook that I have lost somewhere along my journey, just because so many things have been happening at once.

Looking at the sunset and listening to the crashing of the waves reminded me that there is life beyond working 50-60 hours a week. Travel reminded me that my current emotional issues are a minuscule part of the world and that there are challenges greater than the burdens that I carry.

More importantly, travel gave me that renewed sense of self and refreshed my energy batteries, so to speak. I needed it. I needed the beach. I needed the breather.

It’s not a hundred percent back to normal yet, but this weekend’s Bali trip did me a hell lot of good.

It’s true, as they say: no matter the shit that you go through, hang on to that glimmer of hope that things will get better in the end.

I’m not okay, and it’s okay to say it.

It’s a week before my birthday and I’m feeling…off-kilter.

All my close friends know me as the Queen of Birthdays. I always give hand-written letters or birthday presents to close friends and for the past 3 years, my inner circle and I stuck to the tradition of posting what we call a “birthday collage” on our Facebook walls. The birthday collage is simply a montage of our photos together with the birthday celebrator with our heartfelt birthday messages.

Arshad always teases me for celebrating my birthday for an entire month, with all my brunches, dinner parties and celebrations across my different circle of friends.

This time around, perhaps because of the circumstances surrounding my birth month, I’m feeling not just a tad bit blah.

I’ve been having a lot of sleepless nights, I have been working longer hours yet I feel like a hamster running around in circles, pretty much not going anywhere.

Still, I go through the motions every day. I plaster a smile across my face and tell myself things are going to be fine because I have to be fine.

Today is a Monday and I woke up at 3am inundated by waves and waves of thoughts. Knowing that I couldn’t go back to sleep, I opened my Macbook and began typing away.

I realized, perhaps it’s about time to say it out loud.

I’m not okay. And it’s okay to say it.

I feel like my world is caving in. For all the things that I’ve done, amidst all the milestones, I feel inadequate. I feel I have not done enough, I have not given enough.

Much as I would like to do more, give more, at this point, I have nothing to give. Because I have totally drained myself.

For the longest time, I have repressed moments like this. I didn’t want to revel in negative emotions and I never, ever reached out to anyone for help, because the world is not friendly to people feeling sad, depressed or just simply feeling crappy about a situation.

At the same time, in my circle of friends here in Jakarta, 9 out 10 of my expat friends and office colleagues are men, which makes me the lone lady expat in a group of people who share the same industry and profession.

Well-meaning friends and people tell me to just snap out of it. Don’t you think someone like me isn’t trying to? Don’t you think for the past two months, that’s exactly what I was doing?

And this morning, there was that moment that I had this epiphany. I should stop denying it.

I’m not okay, and it’s okay to say it.

Emotions are signals in our lives that there’s something wrong. We have been accustomed to repressing the way we feel because of a host of personal, social and cultural reasons but then I realized, emotions are feedback mechanisms and to deny these is denying our way out of this rut.

And I want to get out of it. So this is my step 1.

Perhaps my pain serves a purpose. It’s a feedback mechanism for me to start sorting out through the cobweb of my emotions.

I do want to get out of this, but I should start acknowledging that I’m going through this phase, in the first place. Perhaps, for some, I’m being a wuss, but if this is the way for me to climb out of the deep rabbit hole, I’m hella climbing it.

The reality is no matter how successful you are, no matter how great your life is or how good it looks on paper for some people, there will be moments when things will just suck and everything will feel like crap.

No one talks about it because it’s not a pleasant area of discourse. In fact, people try to evade it. Generally, no one likes to talk about the shit they are going through.

The thing is, people need to start realizing that everyone goes through this phase. Even Little Miss Sunshine.

The difference lies in how we deal with it. In my case, I go through the suffering when it’s for a purpose and if the reason is worth it. Perhaps it’s my way of “suffering better.”

This morning, when I said a little prayer, I didn’t even ask for this pain to be taken away. I felt like I’m being unfair to even ask for it. I asked for wisdom and strength to deal with it better, with more grace.

And perhaps with this admission, I may be exposing my vulnerability, but if that’s what it takes for me to deal, then I’m taking it.

I’m not okay, and it’s finally okay to say it because I don’t intend to dwell in this longer than I should.

Jakarta Sunday Chill-out: Trying out William’s Casual Dining in SCBD

Given last Saturday’s fainting situation, I decided to have a steady Sunday – for real. Arshad and I decided to road-test a new restaurant in SCBD: William’s Casual Dining.

I discovered William’s Casual Dining through an Instragram ad (what do you know, IG ads actually work!). I figured, hey, the food looks interesting and they’re website is beautifully done. No harm in trying something new to celebrate my 2nd year anniversary in Jakartown.

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Arshad and I at William’s for Sunday lunch

Situated at the heart of Jakarta’s Central Business District (SCBD), William’s is a laidback restaurant serving Western and Asian cuisines.

The ambience was true to their claim: casual dining. The seats were comfortable and there were booths for couples who wanted to go on dates and long tables for friends and family.

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William’s truffle fries paired with chardonnay

I was famished so we ordered glasses of wine first. Chardonnay for me and Pinot Noir for the mister. For Rp110k per glass, I’m not complaining! Their wine selection, although limited, is not bad either.

I paired my chardonnay with the usual starters of truffle fries. I just love the aroma of truffle oil combined with my fries, although I try to eat this sparingly aka special occasions only, since I veer away from anything deep-fried. At Rp45k, it’s reasonably priced without sacrificing the truffle oil punch.

The watermelon salad we chose to share was interesting. It was a blend of cured watermelon, vanilla mascarpone, balsamic caviar, cashew crumbs, dill and lemon fluid.

The watermelon was fresh and the vanilla mascarpone had a hint of sweetness that wasn’t overpowering. Overall, the salad was refreshing and light. It’s something I wouldn’t mind ordering again.

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Watermelon salad from William’s Casual Dining: refreshing and uniquely interesting

For our mains, I decided to go for the roast baked barramundi with smoked mash potato, cauliflower, baby carrots, chilli oil and potato glass. Since it’s a pescatarian dish, I paired it with another glass of chardonnay.

The fish was fresh and nicely cooked, with the vegetables on the side crunchy when you take a bite of them. The mashed potato had an interesting consistency and viscosity to it, which I actually liked.

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Roast baked barramundi with smoked mash potato, cauliflower, baby carrots, chilli oil and potato glass

Arshad, on the other hand, ordered the creamy mushroom spaghetti, which, according to its menu, is “as simple as its title,” and I couldn’t agree more. It was that: a pleasant, comfort pasta of cream and mushroom, with a very light hint of sweetness to it.

Arshad felt like it could still be creamier, as that is his preference for creamy pasta. I prefer it light this way and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can order this for myself next time!
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Overall, the food was both good and interesting. In terms of price points, I think William’s Casual Dining is reasonable, considering the freshness and the quality of the ingredients.

In terms of areas of improvement, the waiting time for the food tops the chart for me. The restaurant was almost packed for Sunday lunch, I don’t think the kitchen was ready for the deluge of orders. My truffle fries took more than 15 minutes before it came out (yes, I timed it). The main course took around half an hour.

Under normal circumstances, I would have bitched about it, but since I was trying to be zen that day, I patiently waited.  In fact, we wanted to try the Dragon’s Nest for dessert but we were told it’s going to take another 15 minutes or so for it, so we decided to just head out to another dessert place.

The wait staff could also be trained more, since they did not immediately give us out our plates and utensils. The salad came out without the plates and utensils and we were staring at it for quite a while, before the staff took the hint.

It’s a relatively new restaurant so admittedly, I’m more forgiving. The food made up for the delays but I do hope they improve the time spent waiting and they train their staff to be more attentive to the customers.

Plus, fine, they have good online presence and they have good Instagram ads, if I may say. I’m a sucker for beautifully orchestrated web sites and deliberate efforts on social media, so hats off to William’s on this.

Will I come back? Sure – just to give it another shot, perhaps on a less busy time or day. I’m keen to try their octopus crackers, arancini and king prawn aglio olio. Hopefully, I can also get my hands on the Dragon’s Nest already!

Here are the contact details of William’s:

Phone: +621 21889061 ext: 858

Reservation table recommended

Opening hours: 10am – 11pm; daily

Address: Jl. Tulodong Atas No. 28, SCBD , Jakarta

Budget: Rp455,000 for 2 people (average)
VAT & service charges extra
Cash and Cards accepted
If you want to read more restaurant reviews in and around Jakarta, KL and Manila, follow my blog or subscribe to my mailing list! =)

Of fainting spells & epiphanies

I fainted at my dermatologist’s clinic yesterday afternoon. I was about to undergo my usual Saturday facial routine when I felt light-headed. As my vision blurred and things went dark, I held on to the table in front of me and I managed to say, “Hang on, wait. I’m dizzy.”

I passed out.

Before I knew it, my doctor and my attendant were fanning me, I was on the floor and they were asking me to open my mouth and if I can breathe.

My doctor was repeatedly saying: “Miss, miss…are you okay? Can you open your mouth? Miss…miss…”

My first sentence when I got my senses back: “I’m sleepy, I just want to sleep. But I still want to do my facial. Can I still do my facial?”

I’m laughing at myself silly now that I’ve recovered and I recalled the first thing I said when I woke up. I swear. Why do I say these things!

I sent the clinic on a frenzy on what’s supposed to be a relaxing Saturday afternoon.

Not my best moment. Certainly not my most elegant.

In fairness to the clinic, they took care of me so well. I was very impressed with how they handled the situation and how very attentive they were. To my friends in Jakarta, hit me up and I will send you their details. They’re awesome!

But I digress.

While my attendant was lovingly scrubbing my face, massaging my neck and trying to do the best she can to relax me, a flurry of thoughts were running through my head.

“I’ve never fainted in my entire life. What the hell just happened there?” 

It was the combination of long hours, lack of sleep and my sugar levels dropping. In short: exhaustion. I tired myself out.

A day before that, I was in an amusement park in Ancol and the sun was scorching hot. The past 3 months were also crazy in terms of my work hours and trips. In all the weekends of September, I was in and out of several cities and I became a standard fixture in the airport.

Admittedly,  I had longer days because sleep became elusive. There were so many thoughts in my head, so many projects to finish and an eternally long list of to-dos that kept me up because my mind was just racing and I couldn’t shut it off.

I know. I brought this upon myself. Whilst I’m slapping me silly of this ruckus, I also caught myself. See! This is why I’m in this situation to begin with!

I’m too hard on me. 

I want to accomplish a lot of things. If I don’t, I feel like a failure. I feel guilty when I stop and breathe. 

I want to do everything. I want to be everything. 

Because I don’t want to disappoint people. And I don’t want to disappoint me. 

Everything has a price. This has a price and it took its toll on me.

Closing September this way, I realized it was a mild and gentle reminder of what other worse things can happen if I don’t slow down.

At the same time, as much as I am in denial and as much as I feel invincible, the reality is: I’m not.

No matter what age you are, wearing yourself down will have consequences. It’s a good thing mine was just 30-seconds worth of passing out and a day’s worth of embarrassment. It could have been worse.

Today is a Sunday and I’m writing this at 7am. After my usual gym routine, I’m supposed to have champagne brunch in celebration of my second year in Jakarta. I’m supposed to run errands, work on some pending personal projects, answer e-mails and fix my calendar for the entire week.

I’m scrapping my to-do list. Just for today.

Today, I will be on pause.

RnR

I’m gonna take my time, sip my coffee, stare in space, catch up on my reading, go to the spa, sleep.

Me, my sanity, my health and my well-being first.

Buying the eggs and ketchup can wait.

Do what you love. Do it often.

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Five years ago (more or less), someone gave me a printout of The Holstee Manifesto.  I’ve lived by this manifesto even before it became popularized and commoditized, but it did eloquently express how I think passion should be brought to life and how life should be well-lived.

I’ve always been a believer of following one’s dreams. I wear my passion on my sleeves and I wear it proudly.

So despite my work frenzy, I painstakingly allot time and effort to do things I’m passionate about, no matter how inundated I get, courtesy of my 9-9 job.

Passion and purpose are things that we should all live for. I don’t think I will ever stop pursuing mine.

Whatever yours is, it’s never too late to run after it. If you don’t know just yet, perhaps it’s time to figure it out. 🙂

Embracing Change

Bella Expatria turned a year old this month. Although I wish I could have written more or I could have shared more, time will always be my adversary in terms of priorities and my long list of to-dos. That’s a given life truth for me.

I wish I had the luxury of even half a day’s worth of just being in a quiet, relaxing corner, armed with a cup of piping hot brew, while in the zone typing away my ideas and everything that I want to say. Truth is, I have to steal these moments.

This Bella made it to a year of writing and blogging. I have to be okay in celebrating this minuscule milestone, because finding the time to do it is already a feat in itself, let alone sustaining it for a year!

Celebrating this anniversary also made me look back and reflect on what has happened. It seemed like a lot has changed, but at the same time, it also somehow feels that nothing did. Quite the paradox, isn’t it?

For the past year, I’ve experienced a whirlwind of changes in my career, my life and my friendships that spun me in a frenzy. I forced myself to keep track and keep up, sometimes at the expense of my health and my sanity.

After everything has been said and done, it was as if I’ve traveled so far and I’ve accomplished so much only to go back to where I started a year ago.

In my head, I’m actually asking this question: “Universe, are you fuckin’ kidding me?

So is there are lesson to take from a year’s worth of journey?

I’ve been an expat for an accumulated total of 4 years now and I’ve been in Jakarta this time around for almost 2 years, yet I feel like I’m still in the beginning of things.  I’ve experienced highs and lows and once again, highs of expat living. Just like any other chosen lifestyle, it has formed its own cycle that just needs riding through.

If there are lessons to be had for me in embracing change, or wading through it for the most part, I can summarize them in 5 learnings that I wanted to share. You don’t even need to be an expat to have these realizations. Personally, they were just more weighted for me because these reminders anchored me in moments of doubt:

1. Let passion and purpose become your truth north. I will change roles, I will change companies and I will most likely change countries in a few years’ time but my passion and purpose as to why I do the things I do are very clear to me.

Perhaps this also comes with age and maturity. Being an aimless wanderer sounded cool in your twenties, but too careless and directionless in your thirties. At some point in time, everyone has to do some adulting.

My family and my career are the two main reasons why I’m an expat. Arshad and I pretty much carved our lives the way we did because we want to pursue our careers without compromising our marriage and our time together.

This is also the reason why we both chose to be in Southeast Asia. We want to be near Manila and KL, so we can pretty much fly in and out to see our family. The choice was driven by our priority: family.

2. People and relationships should be on top of the chain in terms of priorities. Sometimes, we get side-tracked by long hours at work or we’ve got one project too many that we take our relationships and friendships for granted.

I’ve been guilty of the same thing. There were those long days that made me skip my phone calls to Manila or made me take a rain check when I’m just too exhausted to see friends.I assess myself every now and then when I’m becoming a repeat offender. I make it a point to keep in touch with friends and when I’m back in Manila or in KL, no matter how tired I feel, I go out of my way to see the people who matter.

The family and friends in your life will keep you sane when a tide of change hits you.  In all the relocations I’ve made in my life, keeping a consistent and reliable circle of friends kept me grounded and made me feel rock-steady. Here’s the thing though: if you want to have reliable friends who will tide you over the changes in your life, you have to be a reliable friend yourself.

Even if you are far away, make sure you are present in your family and friends’ lives. Remember birthdays and special occasions. Pick the phone up and just make that damn phone call! IDD rates have severely gone down. Hell, we barely need IDD since we’ve got all the OTT platforms to make that video call.

3. Prioritize. Which takes me to my next lesson learned: prioritize the people and things that matter. An expat’s life often requires a lot of traveling and being away from family and friends. This distance also means limited time, and limited time will require you to carefully select and schedule the circle of friends you get to meet every time you come home and visit.

This situation also makes you take a closer look on your relationships and compels you to shortlist the people who really matter. Although it may sound limiting at first, it becomes a filter on who really are your valued relationships.

At the same time, it matters to spend time with people who you become friends with in your host country, because you never know when things will change again – either for them or for you. Likely, you also keep an expat circle who have similar circumstances like yours. Most of the expat stints are within a 2-year range that comes with a renewable contract.

I’ve seen friends come and go, move from our host country to the next one. I’ve attended their send-off parties or at some point in time, they threw mine. The friends we’ve made will come and go – literally. If keeping friendships and valued relationships is a priority for you, make time while they’re still there.

4. Have a grateful heart.  A life of gratitude is a life well-lived, for gratitude’s prerequisite is a positive life perspective. Being in a high-pressure industry and job, I feel a lot of stress and I certainly get a lot of frustrations. What helps me get through long days is counting the accomplishments and blessings that I have – big or small.

I will never have everything. No one’s supposed to. It shouldn’t stop you from being grateful. Admittedly, I forget this because I’m always too eager to accomplish things. I get frustrated when things don’t turn out the way I expected it to because I worked hard for them.

Arshad is better in doing this and he is my constant reminder that hey, you cannot imagine how many other people think how awesome your life is and here you are, sulking because you experienced a setback.

Every time I feel that I’m wallowing too much on my frustrations, I begin counting my blessings. I have yet to perfect this, but I’m learning.

5. Emotional resilience. There are certain things that are just beyond my control, no matter how hard I try.  What sucks is sometimes, although you’ve done everything you can, there’s still a lot of external forces beyond you and things just don’t work out the way you want it to.

An expat’s life will always be a sea of change – career, relationships, location. There will always be a curve ball. Grit and emotional resilience help me stay the course even in the toughest days. And emotional resilience doesn’t just mean being tough. It means managing the way you feel about frustrations, failures, unexpected changes and how you cope with them. Emotional resilience is about having that ability to keep your feelings in check so you can adjust swiftly, or even change your plans again.

Expat living is not easy, but at the same time, I can say it’s one of the best decisions that I’ve made: to leave my country and forge my career path somewhere else. Life, whether you are an expat or not, will always be a trail mix of the good and the bad. I choose to see what’s beautiful, to focus on the potentials and the opportunities, instead of revel in minuscule defeat and setbacks.

In a way, my learnings about embracing change in the context of expat living is to keep an open mind and to always be positive. As cliché as it may sound, the only thing that’s constant in an expat’s life is the one thing that most of us are either averse to or uncomfortable with: change.

 

Makassar in photographs

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of spending it in Makassar, the fifth largest city in Indonesia. Makassar is the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, which is already near the sea and the equator, thus explaining the city’s hot weather.

My driver for the weekend quipped that if Surabaya had 2 suns, Makassar had 4! That explained why the 6:30am sun seemed to be in its peak like it was already 10 in the morning.

I didn’t get to stay long enough to explore the city and I was there for work, but if there is one word to describe Makassar: seafood. Okay, make it two: sumptuous seafood. 

I wouldn’t mind flying back in of only to taste the fresh seafood once again.

 

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A drone shot of Makassar: aerial view courtesy of Arshad’s brand spanking new drone

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Fresh crab with salted egg yolk from Rumah Makan Seafood Apong

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Fish parape 2 ways: with spicy sambal sauce and sweet caramelized onions

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My favorite appetizer: seafood otak-otak with the spicy sauce on the side

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My Sex and the City cocktail being prepared at Aston’s On 20 Bar and Dining Sky Lounge

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Cocktails at Aston’s On 20 Bar and Dining Sky Lounge of Aston Hotel

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Cocktails at Melia Hotel’s The Society

Container Turf: There’s a New Kid in Town!

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La Familia in Container Turf on a Friday afternoon

There’s a reason why us Southerners no longer bother to go to Makati or BGC to hang out. Aguirre Street in BF Homes, Parañaque, in particular, will always have something new. I get surprised every time I go back to Manila that there’s a new restaurant or bar opening in my ‘hood.

Last week, I went back to Manila for my annual executive check-up. Since this requires fasting, I was famished by 4pm. The family decided to head out to get some quick snacks so I can quell my rumbling hunger.

It was a perfect opportunity to hit the latest food park in our street: Container Turf. We’ve been meaning to go every time I’m in town but the place was always packed! Not a surprise since there were loads of options to choose from in Container Turf. It was teeming with a lot of interesting concessionnaires, so much so that we had to go around twice because we can’t make up our minds what and where to eat!

For drinks, there is a bar at the center where cocktails can be had for P150-P250. I was happy to get a chilled glass of white wine for P150!

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Bella in front of Swig and Guzzle

I happily paired my white wine with Fromagerie’s cheese fondue, which is around P450,

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Cheese fondue from Fromagerie

serving 4 persons. Fromagerie also offers grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, which are nice vegetarian options that I’ll definitely try when I come back.

Arshad, on the other hand, tried the raclette cheese with potatoes and chicken on the side, which was interesting, but preference-wise, raclette is better paired with steak. Who am I to say that, though? I quit meat for a year now. LOL!

The family also tried the nachos from El Chapo’s, the meatless pizza from Ayan’s and Red Buffalo Wings Express’ spicy buffalo wings.

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Container Turf boasts of a 3-storey space where families and groups of friends can hang out to try different kinds of cuisines in one location.

During weekends, the place can be backed. I noticed that people started to pour in as early as 4pm. By 5pm, it was already tough to get seats!

Food prices are quite reasonable, from P150 – P450, which is definitely not bad in terms of price points. It also has Happy Hour, Buy 1 Take 1 promos for off-peak hours or during sunset. With the price this reasonable, no wonder most of the customers are millennials and teenagers!

As for Mi La Familia, let the photo below tell you of how they find the food park. My Mom wished that it had healthier options, though, since a lot of the choices were also deep-fried. I’m glad that there are vegetarian options, but I also wish that they had more. It’s a consolation that some concessionnaires were willing to take the meat out for me and replace it with more cheese or something else.

Container Turf17_wm

La Familia enjoying our grub at the Container Turf

Here are some of the other interesting stalls at the food park. They have Indian, Korean and Indonesian cuisines, too!

The verdict: for reasonably priced food and booze in the area, it’s definitely highly recommended, although the market is skewed towards the younger gen and the (feeling) millennials. My friends and I are already planning a visit as soon as I’m back in town!

You can find more information on Container Turf below:

Address: 238 and 240 BF Aguirre Avenue, Parañaque
Instagram: @containerturf
For other reviews about Container Turf, check these out:

The Indulgence of Slowing Down

Bogor1_wmEarlier last week, I found myself getting slower and slower, albeit not deliberately. After 3 weeks of taking on more to-dos, spending more late nights in the office and way too many business dinner meetings, I noticed that I was no longer performing at my optimal speed. Hard as I try to be “in the zone,” it was becoming a challenge for me to focus. What took an hour’s worth of preparation for presentation slides became two. My already-short attention span became nil. I became restless and unproductive.

It was time to take a break. Slow down. For real.

Here’s the thing: I just got used to doing things on hyperspeed that I feel uncomfortable slowing down.  Worse, I feel guilty slowing down. 

On the first point: whenever I try to take a day off, telling myself that I need to learn “the art of doing nothing,” I end up getting fidgety, restless…and depressed. My hands get clammy and shaky because they’re itching to tap the keyboards of my Macbook to answer emails.

Arshad can attest to this. When I was left at home for a day, barely after lunch, he already got a message from me: “I’m feeling depressed.”

I was hard-wired to have a disciplined routine. I wake up early, I work out everyday and I always have a checklist of my things to do, sub-categorized into projects, both personal and for work. 

When I need to take a break, I feel guilty leaving my to-do list and projects behind. It was as if it was a mortal sin for me to.

I’m aware it’s not healthy to not slow down, to not learn HOW to. I knew I was running myself to the ground and I needed to stop.

Or at least take a pause. And so I did.

With last week’s holiday because of Indonesia’s 72nd Independence Day, I decided to file a day off and take advantage of a longer weekend. I needed to space out and unload my brain as I was draining out.

So off I went to Bogor (which I will blog about soon) to just do some of my favorite things that always get interrupted because of a long to-do list.

Work out. Run. Read. Write. Get a massage. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. 

For 3 days, I did all of those. I didn’t even dare go out of the resort.

I made a dent in my book. I slept a complete 7 hours for 2 consecutive nights. I still wokeBogor2_wm up early to see the sun rise and complete my day’s run. I still peeped at some of my emails (just a peep, promise).

But I deliberately slowed my pace down.

I enjoyed my coffee and my fruit plate for breakfast. I savored the pages of my book. I made time to breathe properly. I sat in a corner and stared at the horizon to just really notice the things around me.

At the end of the second day, I felt completely recharged. My shoulders were not as tight (thanks to the messages as well), I had a clearer perspective and there was lightness in every step that I took.

After 2 days, I had more vivid dreams, a better memory recall and a happier, lighter disposition. Heck, I think I even solved a strategy dilemma that I’m currently grappling with at work while I was on the massage table. If that is not clarity enough, then I don’t know what else to call it.

I literally felt so much better. Lighter. Even happier.

After I went back to Jakarta, I realized that I should give myself more credit and more leeway to take small breaks because it makes me so much more productive.

Bogor4_wmIt’s a healthy pause to save my sanity, my health, my wellness of being.

I also realized that I have a lot of women friends and colleagues like me who just won’t stop, no matter the awareness that it’s counter-intuitive to just trudge ahead.

 

I wrote this because I want it to be a reminder to myself when I’m doing it again- slowly killing my joie’ de vivre for not stopping- that the pause is very much needed and well-deserved. 

At the same time, I want others like me to read this and to know that it’s okay. We deserve the pause. There should be neither guilt nor shame in it.

And after the pause, am I ready to begin again?

You bet.

 

Other articles on on productivity and slowing down to be more productive that I found helpful:

Sometimes, not working is work, too

Five Ways Working More Slowly Can Boost Your Productivity