Last Saturday, I was driving to a lunch appointment. Waze directed me to a round about way to make my way to the mall. It was almost an hour in traffic then this song played. I’ve heard it once before, but didn’t get the name of the song. This time I won’t miss my chance. I quickly grabbed my phone and pressed Shazam to identify the song. Then it came out, “Rather Be” (Clean Bandit Featuring Jess Glynne). It was the exact kind of happy feel-good beat that I needed. Manila’s horrendous traffic means dealing with swerving motorcycles dashing from the left and right, unpredictable stop-move maneuver of the jeepneys and the ‘I will cross where I want to cross and when I want to cross behavior’ of pedestrians. I often find myself gritting my teeth when I drive, to the dismay of dentist.
But when I heard this song, I was instantly happy. I love the violins playing in the beginning of the song. I love its catchy dance tune. It is definitely a feel good song. It makes you forget the challenge of driving a manual car in Manila’s traffic. Since I discovered its name, Rather Be has been playing on repeat in the car and at home. I even shared it with my Mixxed Fit dance teacher, hoping he likes it too and we dance it in the gym.
The song is about a girl infatuated with a guy, and tells him there’s no place she’d rather be. But as I played the song for the nth time today and waited for the stoplight to turn green, I let the lyrics seep through my soul. Then it hit me. This is how I want to live my life. Not infatuated with guy and wanting to be with him “When I’m with you, there’s no place I’d rather be” as the song says refrain sings over and over again.
I want to create a life in 2017, where I can honestly sing out loud and say, “There’s no place I’d rather be.” It means not just loving the place I live in, but also doing more of the things I like to do. It does not mean just romantically being with this amazing man you can’t live without, but also carefully choosing the people who surround you. We bitch a lot about many things from the traffic to unsavory characters who don’t share our values or our views. It means spending your time doing what you love and honoring your passions, instead of simply carrying burdens you have to do.
If you are not happy where you’re at, then find where you would rather be. With all your heart and determination, go for it and don’t look back.
We are all grown adults now. Someone I know blamed her parents from preventing her to do what she loved doing as as a kid. A wise friend pointed out one important detail, “But she’s a grown up now. If she really loved doing it, she had a choice to do it all these time as an adult. She’s had more than 20 years as an adult to make it happen. She can’t blame her parents.”
One gift 2016 brought me is the invitation to be more mindful. It isn’t just about sitting on my mat and practicing meditation. The most practical application of mindfulness for me is being mindful of making healthier choices. It means being more mindful of the food I fuel my body with (opting to eat more vegetables than inhaling greasy pizza). It also means mindfully choosing to move more, and to laze around less. But I’ve also tried to simplify my life parting with things I don’t need or use, like clothes or plates from my past life as a foodstylist or fashionable gifts (shoes and bags that don’t really suit me or my lifestyle). I’m also starting to become more mindful of how I spend my money, asking questions like do I really need that Starbucks cappuccino everyday. I am also becoming more mindful of how I use my time. I know I can’t change the traffic in Manila. But will I choose to waste hours in traffic or opt to do something else closer to my home. Will I spend time with people who matter? I also carefully choose who I let in my life. Do I really want someone who puts me down or someone spewing out negativity in my circle? No! There’s already a lot of madness in this world. When given a choice, I’d like to fill my bucket with positive energy from my friends. Sorry I have no time or energy for negative people. I also feed myself with uplifting books and podcasts to feed my spirit. Podcasts by Liz Gilbert, Lewis Howes, and Gretchen Rubin accompany me when I prepare my healthy food at 4:30 in the morning or clean my home on Saturdays.
When she sings: “When I’m with you, there’s no place I’d rather be”, it made me imagine singing it to myself. Do you enjoy your own company? It’s the most important relationship you will ever have. I do enjoy my company, and would choose it over being with boring or negative people.
You see we do have a choice in every situation. Do we love it, we leave it, or we change it.
When we do make the right choice, it shows in the joy in our faces. It is not a fake smile. It is genuine happiness (like that photo of so happy in the beach, some ten year ago) and this photo of me giving a talk at the National Museum of Singapore on Filipino Cuisine (that passion in my face).
Granted there are difficult moments you can’t change. You can still choose how you react to a situation.
And 2017 gives you 365 days chances to choose wisely. Make it count. And I am claiming this perky song as my anthem for 2017, where I can l boldly sing, “There’s nowhere I’d rather be!”
Thank you for journeying with me in 2016. Go where you will be truly happy!
I wish you all a blessed Christmas and holiday season, and may 2017 be all you choose it to be! Find your happy! May your days be filled with moments of feeling totally present and grateful where you are. And may not wish to be anywhere else, or be with anyone else, but right there.
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