When our children were young, and I would gather around the table with other women, the conversation was mostly of parenting concerns. We shared how to address the sleepless nights with sleep training, how to get the kids to eat vegetables, and what kind of discipline methods we would implement at home. Now, that my kids are a little older, our conversations have evolved to where they are going to school, what degrees they are pursuing, and if they have a significant other. When do we talk about the challenges that come with being a woman? A woman who works and tries to maintain a hands on approach to raising her children? How do we balance life, maintain intimacy with our husbands, and follow Jesus? Do we talk about these issues? The answer is yes. When someone poses the questions. Last month, Grace Baja launched a new series of Gatherings by Grace with Curiosity Conversations by inviting women of all walks of life and professions to talk about how we CAN choose to age well.
This intimate affair not only included accomplished women on the panel, but it included women who were successful in business and in life, listening in the audience. It was much like you would imagine a live talk show, with Grace posing questions on self care, beauty, fitness, and relationships not just for the panel of experts, but also for the audience to ponder.
I enjoyed all of the pleasant banter that accompanies good food and sweet treats. I caught up with some old friends, had a chance to reconnect with some acquaintances, and of course spent some time with the mommas I love, who frequent events like these.
The venue was the Owner’s Lounge in Raffles Makati which was perfect for an intimate celebration of femininity and womanhood.
All throughout the panel discussion, I found myself nodding my head in agreement and giggling at some of the funny, but true statements from women who were bold enough to share some of their not so private thoughts on middle age, how to feel sexy, what they do to feed their souls, and how they parent.
I even found it a little bit reassuring and was thankful for some of the reminders that I will take with me as I run towards the idea that I am, in fact, trying my best to thrive in middle age. I’d like to share some of these nuggets of wisdom with all of you, and would love to hear if they resonate with you, as much as they resonated with me.
I met Karen quite a few years ago when when I was teaching Kids Yoga. I also enjoyed meeting her sons, and we even shared a few meals with her and her husband DJ. So much of what Karen said struck a chord with me. When I speak to my own daughter, it may even sound a bit like what Karen shared from her own mother’s advice, while she was growing up.
“Don’t waste too much time on beauty. Build your character. Be relevant and purposeful in what you do, and there you will find a purposeful beauty.”
Ahhhh. This sounds similar to something I say to my own daughter.
And I love that Karen opened up her portion of the program with this tidbit. When debating the the merits of form vs. substance, I will always choose to have meaning and purpose over LOOKING like I have meaning and purpose.
I know my daughter is beautiful. But I also know that she has a kind giving heart, is intelligent, and tries her best. She studies well and understands the meaning of hard work. I will add Karen’s mom’s advice to what I share with Gia.
I think it’s good to remind ourselves that depth of character is indeed, what radiates beauty.
Joanna, well known for her taste in all things beautiful, is also known for making it her mission to remove things that do not “spark joy” in her life on her road to fifty. At fifty years old, this well-versed woman who puts family and marriage first, had a few things to share about removing anything that is superfluous from her life. She shared that she is focused on eating well and staying fit while spending time with the most important people in her life by making sure they eat at least two meals together daily.
Joanna’s most memorable piece of advice for me was the fact in marriage there are two things to consider:
“Love is a given. Like is optional.”
Let’s face it. In a day and age when many marriages don’t always survive, this is something we may even forget as we go about our day to day lives. Nino has his work, his own interests and hobbies, and stresses and concerns. Many times our days align and we get to do things together that we both like and that concern both of us, (like parenthood) but there are certainly times where we may forget just how much we LIKED each other in the beginning!
We both committed to love one another in front of our families and in front of God. We did this many years ago, and even if we have hit a couple of bumps in the road, Joanna’s comment reminded me that it’s important to tell my husband just how much I LIKE him and CHOOSE him too.
Dra Aivee Teo is a name who many associate with beauty. She has luxury aesthetic clinics all over the metro and in Singapore, together with her husband Dr. Z Teo. They cater to the biggest names in high society here in Manila, but that doesn’t meant that Doctora’s beauty is only skin deep. In fact, I was struck so profoundly, when she shared that she and her husband begin every day reading The Word together.
Aivee believes that it is important to remain disciplined in all that she does, and part of that discipline includes making sure that her young children understand what it means to have a relationship with God.
On nurturing her relationship with her husband, she shares, “We do everything together. I reschedule my patients to accompany my husband when he has to travel for business. I love being with him. I don’t go on “girls only” vacations with my friends, because I don’t want him to go on “boys only” vacations. Doing everything together, also means starting our day together with The Word.”
Taking that a step further, Aivee also goes on to say she takes advantage of the time when they go on vacations with their kids, because their undivided attention leads to better bible studies with the littles.
That’s quality time in a whole new way…
I would love for Nino and I to start our days like Aivee and Z.
Admittedly, it feels wonderful to go over our favorite verse together. It’s enlightening to read different passages on topics that we are struggling with individually, or as a couple. BUT…I would love to start our days like this MORE. Starting our days together immersed in what He wants for us can only add to our relationship with Jesus, and with each other, and this (no matter how we slice it) is always a good thing.
Happy Ongpauco comes from a family that is well known for their love of all things food. A chef who has taken catering to another level with private dining and a ready made comfort food line that mommas can use to serve up goodness to their own families at home, she understands that good food can create wonderful memories at the table.
A business woman who embodies an entrepreneurial spirit, she also balances her womanhood with one motto.
“Being happy is a choice. We choose happiness.”
This much is true. Which leads me to the last guest on Grace’s panel of friends…
Cat Juan Ledesma
I have had the pleasure of working with Cat in and around the blogosphere, and as fellow southerners, we have often seen each other in and around Alabang. I admire her quiet unassuming beauty, and can appreciate her worldly view on many things. She is accomplished as well, immersing herself in passion projects that provide inspiration for other mommas and further livelihood for Filipinos all over the country with her advocacy in promoting all things local.
Adding to Happy’s philosophy of choosing happiness, Cat takes this idea one step further for all the women in the room to be reminded that gratitude can lead to a happiness that is fulfilling as well.
“Live a life of gratitude.”
I remind my children of this simple shift in their thought process daily.
We have so much to be grateful for. SO MUCH. We can be grateful for the both the big and the small things and this needs to be a constant reminder for our children, (and for myself) if we want to choose happiness, right?
This is where social media can also factor in and trick my kids into thinking that they are not blessed beyond measure. When the kids are surrounded by affluence and privilege, it is very easy for them to begin comparing. We all know that we have no business comparing our behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel because as adults we also know that comparison is the thief of joy.
SO-choosing happy is a heck of a lot easier when we we live in gratitude and don’t compare…RIGHT?
So as I wrap up this very long post with some very influential women who inspired some other very accomplished women in The Owner’s Lounge at Raffles Makati with our host, Grace Baja for an event mounted and organized by Em Sulit of The Game Changer, I will leave you with this quote that Cat Juan also shared in finding one’s calling during our time together.
“By and large a good rule for finding out your calling is this: the kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. … The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”
From Wishful Thinking by Frederick Buechner
As I am rolling up on 46 years old, and trying to live my best (perimenopausal-mid)life, listening to what works for all of these women not only reminds me that I am on the right path, it reminds me that I have so much more to look forward to, in growing on, in my years.
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