Friday, February 15, 2008

It pays to know the flags

As I was watching the finale of Amazing Race Asia 2 last night, I couldn't help but be as frustrated as Mark Nelson of the Philippine team. There he was in Sentosa Island hoping against hope that his partner Rovilson Fernandez will correctly queue up the right flags (representing the countries they went to on the race, in order) so they won't waste their lead over the other two teams. Mark knew his flags; Rovilson didn't. Oh dear.

Lo and behold, the third team to arrive, Collin Low and Adrian Yap from Singapore, made it in the first attempt, so they were able to get the last clue and head to the pit stop. And they won the grand prize of US$100,000.

It turns out that Adrian's mother gave him a book of flags when he was a child. So he breezed through that challenge.

Lesson learned: It pays to know the flags of the world. You'll never know when you would need that knowledge. :-)

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I'm leafing through Anne Graham Lotz's bestseller Just Give Me Jesus, which I got as a token at a presscon I attended. When you really think about it, Jesus is really all we need to soothe our fears, quiet our anxieties, heal our diseases, provide for our needs, and give us rest from all our troubles.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Chill, be still

About three years ago, I hurt my back. During one of those days Maynilad was repairing the water pipes and there was no drop of H2O coming out of the faucets, I lifted a pail full of water in the bathroom.

Then my back hurt for the next two weeks, and though for a while I thought I just slept in the wrong position, it became clear that it was something else. I couldn't sit down or stand up as fast as I used to. I couldn't walk as fast too. When I became like an old grandma clutching my lower back as I slowly painfully tried to sit on a chair, I knew it was time to go to the doctor. Worse, whenever I took a step on my left foot, the pain shot up to my left butt.

My rehab med doctor told me I had sciatica. An MRI showed that one of my disks in my spine dried up. Disk degeneration. I asked the doctor what caused it and she said stress or trauma. The lifting of the pail must have caused the trauma, but prior to that, my stressful lifestyle also had a hand in my condition.

Aside from the dry disk, one of the nerves was being pinned down by a disk, thus the sciatica.

A series of physical therapy sessions which included spinal traction followed. I also had to take lots of medicines. And I had to rest. That was the hardest part for me. I was used to being busy always as a journalist, with deadlines every week (or several times a week). There was always a story to pursue, an article to write or edit, a photo shoot to do, a presscon to attend, an editorial meeting to join, etcetera.

To make the story short, I complied with my treatment program. Over the months and years since then, my back became stronger. But sometimes my back acts up again when I get busy.

So when I came across a recent article posted in Today's Christian Woman entitled "Rx:Relax" (, I knew I have to slow down again. Chill, be still, said one of the women who commented on the article. It may not mean I have to stop working, but that I should relish the downtimes and just practice the art of doing nothing at the end of a working day or on weekends.

Chill, be still. Makes sense.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Finishing Well by Bob Buford is a small book about "Life II." That's life after 40, when we've accomplished some stuff already and are now asking, "Now what?" Buford doesn't go the preachy mode but instead takes us to lunch with successful people he calls pathfinders, who have made the second half of their life count. Among these people are management expert Peter Drucker, PepsiCo chairman Steve Reinemund, and Ken and Margie Blanchard, coauthors of the One Minute Manager. When you're looking for something more, read this. It's distributed locally by OMF Literature Inc.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10