The Northern Connection

Conversations through Time: A Message to our Daughters and Younger Selves

“…do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.”

Annie Keary (1825-1879)

You’re twenty-something and still figuring things out. 
Perhaps you’re feeling sure and doubtful at the same time, hopeful but a bit worried, excited yet terrified all at once – I can imagine, and I understand. It’s a lot to think of for sure. 

But know that things are just about to happen for you. 
Just wait and see. 

If you could only see what’s happening today, 22 years ahead. 
You can find rest in knowing that you’ll turn out all right. 
Let me tell you why and try to show you how. 
Here’s what I have to say and what you should know regarding the life we’ve lived thus far. 

#1 Be discerning with your life decisions. 

Life is what happens as a result of the decisions you make. Whether it’s that course you choose, the university you prefer, the job you’re applying for, the career you pursue, grad school, and ultimately the family you raise, the consequences of those decisions will follow you wherever you go. Whether you realize it or not, these influence the kind of life you’ll have decades from today. Remember, too, that these choices also involve people- people you allow in your life as you make those decisions, whether as a friend, a colleague, or a significant other. Be prayerful about who you allow into your life. 

Don’t decide on big things when you’re at your highest or your lowest. Keep a level head, think things through, seek advice from people who have gone before you, and wait it out until you’re sure in your heart. 

Matters of importance have a way of making themselves known to you. Listen. 

#2 Be an apprentice. 

To survive as a woman means being willing to be a lifelong apprentice. We are not perfect, and we cannot claim to know everything. There is always a need to upskill, especially with the demands of the times today and the roles we need to fulfill in our homes, the community, and society. 

In a more practical sense, more doors will open if you invest in yourself through education and higher learning, whether enrolling in graduate school, participating in a program so you can specialize, or attending workshops for your craft. Also, know there’s always someone better than you, more experienced than you. Staying grounded goes a long way. 

On a more personal note, learning from the women in your life is equally life-changing. Some time ago, I read that we should have friends of all ages to enrich our lives. Come to think of it, we do have friends from different walks of life: mom-friends we began hanging out with at the time when we were waiting for our preschool kids’ dismissal times, friends who used to be our students, friends who are baristas or chefs, friends in the industry, widows, grandmothers, empty-nesters, women who may be single and in their golden years yet a sage with their life experiences, women who are battling cancer, women taking care of their ailing mothers, women we share the same passion with, best friends from high school, and even our mothers and daughters themselves – it’s friendships like these that guide us and spur us on as we tread through the many phases of our lives as women. 

#3 Take risks and chances – the good kind. Say yes to doors opening. Keep trying, keep hitting “send.”  

Being successful in anything begins with saying yes to something that we may initially be uncomfortable with. If you want to get anywhere, know yourself, take stock of your skills and capabilities, and be willing to “go for it.” Take a leap of faith beyond your comfort zone, but remain realistic. 

The moment you say yes to teaching as a newbie in the corporate world and yes to content writing as an introvert writer, so many opportunities will open for you to grow in the trades you love so much – teaching and writing. At one point, you’ll give a talk and say, “Keep writing until you get that byline” – words you’ll live by, and because of that, many others in your “classrooms” will strive to do the same. 

So, keep pursuing your craft. It keeps you who you are, and being a writer and teacher is your gift to others. 

#4 People change, and so do we. The time we have with other people is but for a season. 

Nothing is permanent. The sooner you accept this, the less pain you’ll need to endure. You’ll also be more intentional with your seasons with people and the situations you’re meant to be in for pre-destined moments. Accepting this will also help you sift through who and what matters in our momentary lives. 

It’ll be rough along the way. I’ll have to say. You’ll know what betrayal means. You’ll hear things said about you behind your back, things said in anger. It will be confusing and paralyzing at some points. But remember not to lose sight of who you are. When everyone else seems to be against you, it’s all right to feel, to mourn, to take a break, go for a retreat, but make sure not to wade and wallow too long. Go back to the Author of your life, finding strength in your “nucleus” – your family, your tribe. 

#5 Learn the art of switching hats, but remember to prioritize. 

As a woman, you have to switch hats more than once a day. You make thousands of decisions as a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, an employee, a colleague, a minister, a writer, a home cook, a baker, and many other things that represent the roles we fulfill and the things we are expected to be and do. It can be overwhelming, but prioritizing will help you get by. 

As a rule of thumb, it’s our relationship with God first, our family, and everyone/everything else. In that order, the daily-ness of life is more ordered. Along with this, embrace a heart of gratefulness, knowing that the to-do lists we have affirm that we are entrusted with much simply because we were found faithful in the small, seemingly meager things. 

Fiona Abellera
With Fiona Abllera, who is more than a sister

#6 Remember the Half-Smile POV. Keep a quiet heart. Embrace a Higher Calling.

I wrote about a half-smile some years ago, but it was in the context of being a local from Baguio City, my hometown: “The half-smile, on the other hand, is something else. What you need to understand with the locals is that it is normal for them not to react too much to anything… They’d remain very unfazed and calm, just being observers. With their arms crossed over their chest, it takes a lot to bring out an elaborate smile. How Baguio people smile is seen in their eyes and how they walk. It takes one to know one.”

Taking this Half-Smile POV a notch higher, I’d say as a woman, when we keep a quiet heart, knowing who we are, knowing the calling we have been given as a mother, a wife, a daughter, or anything else, we can face life head-on. This stance of both quietness and strength is liberating because we’re living with purpose. 

You are a woman with a higher calling, and pursuing that has its challenges and struggles. But as you keep trusting His will and purpose, you’ll grow stronger and more mature. You’ll become a better version of yourself through grit and His grace alone and be able to make a difference in the lives of other people that you’re meant to meet and be with. Nothing is by accident. 

So when you’re asked what it means to be you, what it means to be a woman, it’s being confident in who you are because you know your Why, your Higher Calling. Whatever life throws at you, you’ll be all right because your life is rooted in that. 

For me, my Why is the call to love as a wife and a mother — the love of the home and all it represents – whether my family or those beyond my own, in ministry, work, the classroom, and what I write and who I am writing for.

Everything else I am and do flows from that – of this, I am content.

As I write this, I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share some bits and pieces of my little life with you through this International Women’s Month feature by Northcon. Many thanks to the team for the support and encouragement, especially to Mark Macky, the project manager of this initiative. 

The team at Northcon: Macky Benj, Rae Floresca-Rigonan, Fiona Abellera, and Chino Chow
(not in the photo: Dean Cuanso, Omeng and Ane Fallarme, Liezl Formilleza-Dunuan, Joel Rigonan, Paolo San Juan, Chiki Agpaoa, Moe and Fiona Abellera, and Kiko Villalba )

Thank you, Paolo San Juan, for making women like me feel confident and comfortable in our skin, realizing that feeling and being beautiful is about who you are and working with what you have- metaphorically and non-metaphorically. 

Thanks to Moe Abellera of A Shot of Baguio , for taking beautiful photos of these rare but gorgeous moments. 

Moe Abellera and Macky Benj
“I think we got it:” Moe Abellera and Macky Benj

And thanks, too, Photos and Mugs Cafe, for saying yes to being part of this.


1 thought on “Conversations through Time: A Message to our Daughters and Younger Selves”

  1. Such beautiful photos!

    What wonderful life lessons to teach your daughters and even me, as a reader. Thank you for sharing your insights!❤️ How I wish I could go back in time and read this then, I’d be a better version of myself for sure.😄 But all is not lost because I get to be in your life and learn from you as well.😊

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