Dream Big My Little Ones: To my son and daughter.

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To my son,

Just the thought of putting down words that you will someday read brings tears to my eyes. There is so much I want to say and so much I want to share with you…

Let’s start with telling you that I have always wanted to have a little prince. When I found out that you were no longer a figment of my imagination and you were really coming, I was over the moon. To think in nine short months I would get to meet you. I have to tell you… my journey is different than most, but that is okay because that’s what gets us to today. And every single day is such a beautiful day.

Sweetie, you and your spirit inspired me to make some important decisions and quickly. I decided that I can continue to be sad and feel bad for you or I could make the right choice and give you the best life that I know how and teach you that your differences are not weaknesses but strengths. And that may not make a lot of sense. Well, I have a secret to tell you. Before you were even born I realized something very special about you. Something that I struggled day after day to find the perfect word to explain…

You, my dear, are extraordinary. When our family, friends, communities and even strangers found out about you… they were moved. You wiggled your way into their hearts and were determined to never leave. You reminded them about what is important in life. You made them believers in triumph and how obstacles can be overcome. You showed them the importance of “compassionate love” and you encouraged them to reach out to us. You strengthened their faith and reminded them how God takes care of us all no matter what. You showed us how much we can rely on others and how much people care. You made us believe in each other and most importantly… in you.

You see, you have already touched so many lives… and all before your first breath of air. God has such big plans for you and your life.  Never forget that. You were put here on Earth for a very divine purpose, you started fulfilling that purpose before you could have ever known.  Just as your baby sister & I feel we have an obligation to share your story with the world and teach people about accepting and celebrating differences, we feel you have an obligation to touch peoples’ lives too. And the amazing thing is… all you have to do is be yourself and give a little smile.

We are not going to tell you that your journey is going to be easy.  There are going to be times when you will wish you were like everyone else.  You may be sad and you may wonder why this was your fate.  Just know that it is okay to have those feelings.  We will always be here for you with a handful of those surrounding us ready to love and support you in whatever you may need.  Nothing in life worth living for was ever easy.  And how do you become the person you want to become without opportunities to be challenged along the way?  Embrace these challenges and know you will be better for it.  Not to spoil the ending… but your journey is unfolding exactly as it should be and everything is going to be okay.  Better than okay.

And just remember, your sister and I, family, friends and the Lord God above loves you deeply just the way you are.  And we want you to love you just the way you are too.  Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart (Psalms 31:24).  All that matters is what is in your heart.  Fill your heart with joy and it will spill over onto everyone else.  Know that you are so blessed and God has given you so many talents.  It is up to you to unlock the doors to those talents and let them come out to play.  You are capable of wonderful things.  Yes you are… we have already witnessed it.

And what you do in this world is up to you.

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
~ William Arthur Ward

So as you go through life, hold your head up high and feel confident in knowing just how extraordinary you are.  For before you were even born you were so loved by so many.  Never before was there ever a YOU in this world. YOU are the one everyone is excited to meet.  You were called a miracle, inspiration, prince and a blessing by so many people before you ever opened your eyes.  You will always be a symbol of hope, of love and of life.  But to me & your sister, you will always be… our hero.  And love you we will… always and forever… to infinity and beyond.

XOXO, Nanay

To my daughter,

From the moment I knew you were going to be the baby princess, my heart rejoiced for you.  What an honor in life to get to grow up with with the title of “little sis.”  With this title comes lots of happy things: lots of freebies, fun and the occasional squabble.  (Occasional is me being optimistic here.)  Well let me tell you… the key to being a good little sister is that word love. All little sisters are responsible for teaching, helping and loving their big brothers.  And I have no doubt in my mind that you will embrace these tasks wholeheartedly.

But, ‘Gel… there is something else you should know.  Your brother isn’t like other big brothers.  He is fragile, and he needs a lot more care and attention than you and he will always be that way.  When you were still young, you didn’t even notice.  But there will come a time in your life when you will understand that your big brother is different.   What I want you to know is that different doesn’t mean anything other than that.  In our house, different will always be said with a smile.  Different will always define who we are and we will take on that word with pride.  Different will never mean wrong or bad.  Different is beautiful.

And as your big brother’s little sister, that word love and responsibility will take on more meaning.  You see, he will be loved by you and he will look up to you.  You will be such an influence in his life now and always.  Know that if you show him respect, so will others.  You are such a natural-born leader, I know that you will have no problems in leading the charge.  But this is your journey too.  And I know that some days are going to be harder than others.  But I promise to always be here for you.  And so will be your family, relatives, friends, and so many others.

Over the course of your seven years here on Earth, you have surprised many people… especially me.  There have been many wonderful words people have used to describe you, but the one I hear on a daily basis is: smart.  And just as it is every parents’ duty to discover their child’s talents… we feel we already know yours.  ‘Gel, your ability to remember and learn and teach are talents that God has blessed you with.  Don’t think this happened by accident.  You should know that God doesn’t work that way.  He gave you these talents for a reason and He will reveal His purpose for you.

I want to educate everyone one day at a time about what it is that makes your brother different and how we can all learn something from that.  We hope you allow your experiences to light your way… sharing your story and moving others’ to be better.  You were given a gift, just like your brother, to have the ability to change the world.

More than anything… your big brother & I feel so blessed to have you as our baby princess.  You have taught us what it means to love even when your heart feels like it couldn’t possibly hold any more love, it expands in a way to make room for more.  Your smile melts our worries away and your laugh makes us wonder if there is anything in life that sounds sweeter.  Thank you for being a light in our lives and we look forward to watching you shine on and on as you wish upon your star.  We love you so much!

XOXO, Nanay

❤ ❤ ❤

P.S. Here’s a song I used to listen to when you were still little babies. It gave me strength and encouragement to go on with life amidst all the strugles and challenges. I will catch a unicorn for you if I could. You’re my bubbly little man and beautiful lady, I hope you will never change. Life has so much to offer you, I know. I love you both more than anything else in this world. You make my life this complete. You are both my life’s greatest pleasures all rolled up into one.

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Find Yourself Before You Find Love

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“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

After a few years of living through the betrayal and anger of my ex husband, my friends decided it was time for me to start dating again.

They took me out to the bars, dressed me up, bought me drinks, and showed all the men how cute I was.

I didn’t feel cute. I felt like a fraud.

The bar scene was not for me. I felt like a piece of meat wrapped in cellophane on the shelf waiting for a man to decide which one he’d like to eat.

I dressed up in my newly skinny body and looked the part of the fun loving girl, but inside all I felt was desperation.

I put on make up so men would think I was pretty.

I went through tortures of pilates exercise so my body would look good for others to gaze at.

I smiled and giggled so men would think I was fun and funny.

I didn’t feel fun, funny, pretty, or like I wanted to be looked at. I felt scared.

I kept grasping at a portrait of who I wanted everyone to think I was. I so wanted to be this picture perfect representation that I thought men wanted. I wanted a man to like me so I could feel loved and validated.

I finally realized my imaginary self-portrait was who others wanted, not who I wanted to be now. I was not being true to my new self.

So I trashed the portrait, went home, and got my act together.

I wanted to find love again but not like this. Not by picking up someone in a bar who was looking for love in all the wrong places, just like I was doing. I needed to learn to love myself, because no one else could do it for me.

I wanted to find love by knowing who I was. Then I could find someone who complemented me. So I stopped going out and started to learn who I was, what I wanted in life, and what I deserved in a man.

What I did learn from speaking to men in bars is that real men want real women. I decided to learn how to be real. Learning how to be real would require some investigative research on my part. I had lost myself in my marriage. It was time to find me.

I decided to step out of my proverbial box. I had to try new things and figure out what activities I liked, and which ones I needed to stay away from.

I travelled to developing rural areas. I had my palm read and visited a mind reader. I went food tripping, took up yoga, learned to meditate, hiked on volcanoes, rode zip lines through the forest, joined book clubs, learned to meditate, I found out what tai chi was.

I started to visit international restaurants. I went to museums and hung out in coffee shops. I got into my first Wattpad organization and started to get active. I tried things I had always wanted to do but never could while I was married.

I had fun. I learned that I favored Chinese food over Italian food. I learned that I can forget all the troubles in the world whenever I bake. I learned things about me I never knew.

I stopped wearing most of the make up I had worn thinking it made me look good so men would like me. Instead I decided to look good for myself.

I stared at myself in the mirror and told myself over and over that I am beautiful, even though I didn’t believe it. The more I told myself I was beautiful, the more I began to feel good about myself.

I wanted my beauty to be defined by my self-confidence that began to return when I started to truly believe in what I began to represent.

I started to dress the way I wanted to feel, not the way I wanted to be looked at. I wanted free flowing clothes that I could move in. I wanted to be able to feel my body, not the clothes pinching me.

I started to exercise because it made me feel good, not so I would look good. I accomplished both by doing what I wanted for me, not for them. I found exercise that I loved to do. I increased my pilates exercise and kept on walking, even planning to try rowing and biking.

I stopped going to bars to meet men. Instead, I went to the occasional hang outs with friends.

I stopped looking at men as the answer to my problems and started looking at me to solve them.

I realized that to find a man that had the same interests I had, I better know what my interests are.

When I learned what I liked, I became happier than I had ever been before. I learned to be true to me, not someone else.

I realized that I had been incomplete without the knowledge to define my own boundaries, my likes, and my dislikes. Without knowing what my boundaries were, I would never attract a person into my life that could live within my boundaries. I had never known how to define and stand up for my own beliefs.

When I felt confident with my new self, it was then that I became ready with a new steady omnipresent love. He just knocks me off my feet, but he also teaches me that I am already far better educated to know how it pays to wait for that right timing specifically for what I wanted and how I wanted to be treated. It was far better than telling someone to take me on a romantic date, when I couldn’t define what I thought a romantic date was.

So get on with it, what are you waiting for? Get out there and experience the beauty of life. Find out who and what you are. Live life by yourself; be happy by yourself. It’s your life; make it what you want. Don’t look for someone else to do it for you, because they can’t. Only you can know who you really are.

 

P.S. here’s a lovely playlist I made a year before I even met him which by the way gave me true inspiration that I have right now, hoping it would also give inspiration to others out there. XOXO

 

[FOOD REVIEW]: Josephine’s Pizza (Delicious Home Made Goodness)

 

Home made dough, real cheese, and good quality ingredients. We really enjoyed the pizza and also the great location just a few steps away from the beach! Josephine’s real American pizza in Digos is the best pizza that I ‘ve ever had.

 These are only a few of the comments being said from the customers who have been to this place. The only thing better than pizza and beer is pizza and beer with the people you love. My friends and I met at Josephine’s located near Aplaya Beach, Digos City to catch up on over a delicious meal and it proved to be a place I’ll be returning to again soon. Good food being shared with good people always bring good memories that are worth keeping.

 

 

Josephine’s has a variety of artisan wood-fired pizzas that you could spend your whole moment contemplating over. The good news is that the server/owner, Ms. Josephine Rible Alferez herself, can help you over with the pizza that speaks to you since the varieties range from bold, bolder, to boldest. Some of the finest gourmet ingredients they use include: spicy chili flakes, tomato sauce, pesto, fresh bell peppers, anchovies, arugula, ricotta, parsley, black olives,crushed red peppers, capers, mozzarella, prosciutto, pepperoni, onions, juicy pineapple slices, organic mushrooms . . . . you get the idea.

 

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Since my friends and I are absolute organic veggie fanatics, we opted for something that sounded a bit lighter. Their vegetarian pizza is actually full of premium grade cheese, and for us it’s pure heavenly goodness because we’re all cheese lovers too. After our order was served to our table, and even more so after the first bite, I couldn’t have been happier with our pizza choice. It’s certainly the best combination of fresh ingredients, delicious crispy crust with a spicy marinara enhanced by the red chili flakes — definitely a match in heaven!

 

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Overall, Josephine’s had a pleasant, refreshingly ambiance by the beach minus all that stuffiness you could expect at a sea-side restaurant. The service was delightfully fantastic and the interior is warm and welcoming, perfect for date nights or for dinner gatherings and/or drinks with friends.

A recent visitor compared them to a “food porn by the beach” with wood paneling and flower drop decorations. The owner’s only warning? “The crushed red peppers is spicier than you think.” My favorite comment though? “Josephine’s, you had me at crushed red peppers.”

 

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Dear crushed red peppers,

 

I’ll be back for you. 

With love and my best intentions,

Joy ❤

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An Open Letter To The Girl Who Waits

 

You deserve the best. I mean it with all my heart, with all my soul. A soul mate;  someone who we are beyond thrilled to meet. We are thrilled to know where we will meet them, how we will meet them and most importantly, what they are like. We wonder if we will meet them in college or in a place we aren’t even aware exists yet. In the absolutely cheesiest way possible, we are thrilled to know whose name will be beside ours on our wedding invitations, whose name will be beside ours on our child’s birth certificate, whose pillow will be beside ours come morning. We are thrilled to know our soul mate, but let’s start being thrilled without anxiety. Let’s start being thrilled while resting in who our God is. Let’s be thrilled knowing that if they are indeed our soul mate, our souls will indeed mate.

We love to fall in love. We love to be liked, to be noticed, to be desired. I am not talking about young girls in general. I am not even talking about women in general. I am talking about human beings in general. We love to love and even more, love to be loved. Our problem today is that we are settling. We are settling for men that hold doors behind them instead of in front of them. We are settling for surface level relationships when we should be seeking deeper conversations, deeper moments. We are settling for, “talking,” for “things” when we should have an, “if you know, you know, let’s do something about this or I’ll be on my way,” kind of mindset. We are texting. We are snapchatting. We are liking each others’ Instagram posts. Let’s not settle for social media flirtation. If they really like you, they will like the real you more than the social media you. We are settling for a twenty-first century relationship when we should be seeking an everlasting love.

 

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We should not be throwing in the towel simply because we realize they snort when they laugh, sing too loudly in the car or snore when they sleep. We are people. We are a lovely mess and masterpiece all at once. We should not be expecting a man without flaws, as he should not be expecting a woman without them. We should not be giving up because we are fighting every once in a while. Because in every relationship worth something, there will be fights about anything and everything. We should not be giving up because the other person in the relationship is simply human. We should not be expecting a perfect man, but a respectable and loving one.

We should be expecting a gentleman. We should be expecting men who come from women who have raised them right and not settling for anything less. We should be expecting treatment fueled from our God’s love for us and not our generation’s standards. There is no perfect man out there, but there is man who will be perfect for you. There is a laugh that will create a beautiful harmony when aligned with yours. There are eyes that will tear up when they view you in a white dress. There are hands that will hold you when you have had enough and feet that will dance with you in the kitchen on a Monday night.

 

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Love is a two way street. We should be treated how we have desired to be treated throughout our whole lives and also be willing to return this treatment to them as well. You cannot expect a breathtaking love story if he is the only one writing it, nor should he expect one if you are the only author. Don’t believe the lies the world tries to tell you when you begin to believe that a kind, passionate and Christ like man is unrealistic. Do not believe them when they tell you, you are living in a fantasy world, because you crave a more meaningful relationship than the rest of the world. You simply have higher standards than the others and you will one day see the great gift of high standards convert into a high valued relationship.

Relationships end. We cannot be looking forward to a full life while simultaneously looking forward to a life of no heartbreak, no heartbreaking and no lessons learned. They end, you cry, you hurt, you go on. . They often end solely because it was not meant to be. Maybe your senses of humor do not line up. That’s no one’s fault. Maybe you’re too outgoing for him. That’s no one’s fault. On the other hand, relationships have the potential of ending when one or two involved in the relationship were not putting in their best effort. There is the option of settling when you are putting in 100% while he is putting in 20% at most. There is the option of seeing what is in front of you, being too scared that no one else will love you like they do, and staying out of fear. When you settle, your sadness, your absence of fulfillment, your emptiness is no longer his problem, it is yours. Yes, blunt and rough; it is yours. We can blame others mistakes and lack of love on them, but when we stay in these places of comfort, we are hurting ourselves more.

 

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You do not deserve a twenty-first century  relationship. You don’t deserve a relationship centered on read receipts or likes on social media. You deserve a relationship centered on Love, a relationship centered on something greater than the two of you combined. You do not deserve to be cheated on, under any circumstances, ever. You deserve someone who would never think of leaving you, seriously. You deserve to be appreciated, not judged for the intelligent, beautiful, worthy of love, human that you are. You don’t deserve to be embarrassed by rude tipping habits. You deserve to be proud of all that your partner is. You do not deserve to feel like the only one in the relationship. You deserve to feel like there is another person, also putting 100% in on the other side. You don’t deserve a car honk or a text. You deserve a doorbell ring. You do not deserve to be treated less than. You deserve to be treated like the most important human in the world.

Do not sell yourself short. Do not be afraid. Because if it is not who you are with, someone is even better. No matter how hard that is to believe, God’s greatest gifts are upgrades. Know that if he won’t, someone else will. If he won’t treat you like you believe you should be and desire to be treated, that does not mean that no one ever will. You should not feel like you are settling at any point. If you are settling, you are better off alone. If he is unfaithful, you are better off alone. If he is treating you in a way below your expectations and your standards, you are better off alone.

 

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Know that if he isn’t kind to waiters, there is someone who is. If he doesn’t shake hands and make good eye contact, there is someone who does. If he doesn’t pull your chair out for you, someone else will. If he cancels on you often, there is someone who will be there ten minutes early. If he is constantly red faced and yelling, there is someone who finds no need to do so. If he doesn’t walk you to the door because it is too outdated, know there is someone who believes the exact opposite. If he doesn’t remember small details, know there is a relationship in which you will find yourself surprised as to how much they know about you. If he doesn’t go out of his way, know there is someone else who will.

If you wouldn’t marry them, don’t date them. That’s one of my biggest pieces of advice from my seventeen year old single self. If you wouldn’t want to wake up to their face personality, each day, seven days a week, for the rest of your life, don’t waste your time now. If you wouldn’t want your kids to be just like them, don’t waste your time now. Wait for someone you would never associate the word, “settle,” with. Wait instead of settling. Wait because there is someone who will look at you in a way you didn’t know was possible. Wait because there is something greater, a relationship between soul mates, and not just, “loved to be loved,” young people. Wait because there is someone who would never allow you to settle. Wait patiently with love because if he won’t, someone else will. ♥

 

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Not Your Ordinary Coffee Table Reads: An Open Letter from Mr. Right

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Dear daughters of God,

Contrary to what you have heard, I do exist. I’m no fairytale hunk with big muscles and thing for chick flicks (although, I may or may not have a man bun). So, put your daydreams of love off to the side for a minute and let me tell you what makes me, “Mr. Right” and why people keep telling you to wait for me.

The first thing I really want for you to understand is that I was not born your Mr. Right. I promise we weren’t destined to cross paths and lock eyes from across a crowded room and fall hopelessly in love. God has been working in my heart for YEARS! Do you realize what was in my heart before Christ saved me?! Of course you don’t because we haven’t met yet, but I can promise you it is equally as crazy and sinful as what you’ve been walking through. That is why I need some time… And it is also why you need the same. Let’s do each other a huge favor and give one another the time to heal from our pasts and become something different; something whole. I know that you’ve spent a lot of time feeling less than whole, like you’re missing something, and so have I. But now we have both been made new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and need to take some time to learn to walk in this new wholeness. So, I’m going to give you that space and promise not to pursue you until God has made it clear that you are in the right season in your faith.

But here is the kicker and the second thing I need you to know… As patient and trusting in God’s timing as I am, this thing between you and I also hinges on your obedience and trust in the Lord. Have you ever read the Song of Solomon? There is a part in there that I will never forget. It says, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem (Daughters of God); not to awaken love before the time is right” (NLT Emphasis Mine). Let me fill you in on why she says that. She is begging women not hurry into love for two reasons; one, because the real thing is so worth the wait. And two, because being joined with a person out of season is one of the most painful things someone can experience. Sure you can frolic in lala land for a little while, but what happens when the romance and passion subsides and your left with just your hearts, left open and bare? What happens when the struggles hit and the person you’re with isn’t strong enough to fight the good fight of faith? What happens when they mess up and you’re expected to show them the same grace Christ showed you? I’ll tell you what happens, things will fall apart. Whether on the surface or beneath it, things will fall apart…. That’s the truth, if two people are not both firmly rooted in their faith in Christ, they will suffer for that lack together. I could walk you through almost any church and show you marriage after marriage where people are suffering because they aroused love before it’s time. They are paying for the consequences of that decision decades down the road. Which is why we must join together in patience, even though we are apart.

Here is what we are working towards and the third thing I need you to know: God has asked me to be so much like Christ that you are able to submit to me as unto Him (Ephesians 5:22-33). And He is asking you to be able to submit to me and point me to Jesus by your actions, even when I’m acting like a fool (1 Peter 3:1-6). So take a minute and think… Could you really do that right now? I’m getting closer, but I don’t think I could do that just yet. But when God gives me a peace about the continual growth of my own faith, I will know and I’ll be obedient to pursue you. And you will know that it is me because I will respectfully, tactfully, and politely pursue you with very clear intentions. When a guy begins to talk to you, know that it’s me because I’ll be respectful and not flirting with you via text. Know that it’s me because I’ll be clear that I’m asking you on a date and won’t create an atmosphere where you have to question what we are doing or where we stand. Know that it’s me because when we are dating, I’ll not only be respectful of your emotional and physical boundaries, but also have some of my own. And know that it’s me because I’ll be more interested in your faith and what your relationship with Jesus looks like than being romantic and creating surface level connections.

So, please wait for me. For your sake and my own, wait. Wait because God is telling you to wait. Wait because you have more growing to do. Wait because I have more growing to do. And wait because it will be worth it. Because at the end of the day, the reason I’m not pursuing you yet is because I’m just not ready. And the reason you’re not being pursued by me yet is that you’re just not ready. So join with me in individually submitting to God…Even if that means that there actually isn’t a Mr. or Mrs. Right waiting for us… Can we be ok with that? Can we trust God and be okay with whatever the outcome, knowing that we have already received all we need in His Son? That’s a hard question, but until you’re in a place where you’re okay with never getting married, you won’t be in a place where I will be able to pursue you. Thinking of and praying for you,

– Mr. Right

#UNFILTERED

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Dear daughters of God,

Contrary to what you have heard, I do exist. I’m no fairytale hunk with big muscles and thing for chick flicks (although, I may or may not have a man bun). So, put your daydreams of love off to the side for a minute and let me tell you what makes me, “Mr. Right” and why people keep telling you to wait for me.

The first thing I really want for you to understand is that I was not born your Mr. Right. I promise we weren’t destined to cross paths and lock eyes from across a crowded room and fall hopelessly in love. God has been working in my heart for YEARS! Do you realize what was in my heart before Christ saved me?! Of course you don’t because we haven’t met yet, but I can promise you it is equally as crazy and sinful as…

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This Is Why I’m Guarded

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 Reblog. Credits to (c) Nicole Tarkoff

A/N: This is what I get from watching The Healer last Saturday, too much Korean heavy drama.

To Gymbae,

Mianhae oppa….joesonghamnida….

There’s a reason why my walls are built so high, and there’s a reason it will take you longer than expected to bring them down. There’s a reason why I’m guarded.

I’m guarded because I’ve been hurt before. We all have. My weakness is that I carry the pain with me as a constant reminder that it could happen again. And while this is such a cautious way to walk through life, while instead I could be wildly sprinting, the wild sprint has made me fall and trip before, and the scrapes and burns were painful. So painful that it takes a while to try and run that fast again. So I walk, and I walk carefully noticing my surroundings because I worry if I were to ever fall that hard again, I might not be able to get back up.

I’m guarded because I’m scared of what you’ll think, but not scared enough to admit it. I fear your disapproval like a little girl fears the monster under her bed, and right now I will just keep quiet to avoid any disturbance.

I’m guarded because no one has ever protected me as well as I protect myself. My own armor has been stronger than yours, or his, or hers, and it will continue to be until someone shows me otherwise.

I’m guarded because I’m no stranger to failure, and while it has made me stronger, it has also made me more aware of all that can go wrong.

I’m guarded because I’ve mistakenly invested my trust in those who took it for granted, and because of their disregard, I no longer hand that trust out so easily.

I’m guarded because I see the damage coming before it even happens, and I know that the lucky ones will tell me how unreasonable, pessimistic, and sad this all sounds, but even when you try to tell yourself that this time is different, the reminder seeps back in.

Life will bring hurt and pain, and people will disappoint you, but no one has the ability to break down your walls except for you. I’m guarded because I’ve chosen to be that way.