Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Four Years for a Few Seconds of Glory

image from eonline.com

The London 2012 Summer Olympics is finally over. It started with a bang; it ended with a bang. It has met a lot of opposition, even unrest in the past year, yet the games went on. The games pushed through and so did the thousands of athletes, volunteers, and organizers who were responsible for this grand event. Every sweat, every tear, every sleepless night of working, negotiating, planning, and putting into action--all for sixteen days of competition.

I wasn't a really huge fan of the Olympics. In my lifetime, I should have watched about five Olympic games, but I didn't. Excuse the first two games because I was probably still absorbed in my discovery of the world, but the past games, I haven't been paying attention.

I remember the Atlanta Olympics because of Shannon Miller. She was my favorite athlete and gymnast, but I didn't know who she was until about a few days ago. I watched almost all the Artistic Gymnastics events, and through all of it, I listened to the hosts. One of them was Shannon Miller. I didn't recognize her, not yet. It was only when I kept thinking of the gymnast who sprained her ankle when she landed during the Olympics yet she stood up and waved at the crowd, the one who needed to be carried away from the mat because she couldn't stand anymore, only then did I find the initiative to search her on the Internet. And I was surprised. I've been listening to the girl who's inspired me for so long and I didn't even know it. I distinctly remember telling myself, This host knows a lot to have made such comments as the slight separation of the feet during a double-twisting Yurchenko, a form distortion, or a lack of arm extension. She must be a gymnast. Oh, how right I was.

I watched a couple of other sports events during the London Olympics. I watched the opening and the closing ceremonies. I watched the BMX and the canoeing events. I checked the medal tallies whenever I find a wifi hotspot. Someone told me I was an Olympics addict. Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I have wanted to attend the London 2012 Olympics since the close of the Beijing Olympics.

Despite that, I satiated the desire through late night alarms just to watch events on TV. This is not dedication, however. Dedication is what we watched for the past two weeks.

I'm going to make references to the gymnastics and synchronized swimming events because those were the ones I waited for.

When I was watching the gymnasts jump off beams and uneven bars, something made me think. These athletes spend four years and more training for a ninety-second routine, a jump on the vault, or a somersault on the floor. These athletes stretch, bend, and strengthen for that one moment when everyone, especially the judges, are watching them, that one moment when everything they've ever trained for finally gets noticed. That one moment is crucial. That one moment needs to be perfect. One slip up  and everything you've worked for will disappear. One slip up and your dream of an Olympic medal will never materialize. All the hard work and all the hours spent on one routine will be judged and weighed on the Olympic floor. And everything that happens there is the result of what you've done for the past four years.

I'm talking about perseverance. I'm talking about running races for the win. I'm talking about going the distance and making sure you're strong enough to get there.

We're all athletes. We're all runners, and we all have an Olympic gold we want to wear someday. We run with anticipation. We exercise, we work out strategies, and we even plan Bs and Cs and Ds just in case plan A doesn't work. We run because we have a goal we have fixed our eyes on. But is that the gold we have to reach for? Is that the gold that we were made for?

Are we running in the wrong lane toward the wrong finish line?

The synchronized swimmers spend almost twelve hours a day, five days a week, and eight hours on Saturdays just to perfect their routine. Each leg extension is measured. Each large breath that keeps them alive underwater has been practiced. Every move is calculated because they spent hours upon hours perfecting it.

What are we doing to reach our goal? What are we doing to get where we are supposed to be?

Some say that the end justifies the means. For a gold medal in the Olympics, I guess the means is just as important as the end. After all, who wants to receive a medal just because of a protest or an enemy forfeited. We have the human instinct to win by fighting. That's why sometimes we find it hard to grasp the concept of grace.

For every second in the world, we are weighed and measured. Some for their assurance, others for their reward. Whichever category, we are all running. The question is, can we go the distance and are we running toward the right finish line?

The athletes of the 2012 London Olympics have proven themselves to the world. Medalists have shown that their hard work has paid off. Nonmedalists have shown that they have either lacked training or have bigger space for improvement. Nevertheless, the athletes of the games have tried hard and finished well.

What about us? Will we finish well? Will we finish at all?

I watched the Olympic flame get extinguished during the closing ceremony and I felt bittersweet sadness. I was sad that the games are over. It told me that the dreams of some of those athletes will never come true. Some will never be in an Olympic stadium, competing for a gold for their country anymore. Some will be discouraged or will find greener pastures in other endeavors. And then there are those who will pass on to the final finish line of life. But I also felt happy because with every extinguishing of the flame comes tiny sparks of hope in each person's heart. There will be another set, another season, another group of athletes fighting. There will be another event to look forward to. But this is only for the Olympics.

What about when our flames get extinguished? Where will you be going?

from radiotimes.com

I have answers, but I want to hold back a bit. Let your mind wander. What next? What now? What then?

Until the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, I congratulate the Olympians and the athletes and each country represented. You have indeed inspired a generation.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Fashion Confined: The Face-Shoe Experience

Okay, some people are just better at this than I am, and I'm willing to make you understand that this isn't exactly the kind of stuff I'm good at. This topic, though I have practiced it over and over in my head, is still as vague and lopsided as I first thought it would be when I made up my mind to blog about. And maybe that's kind of obvious, considering the fact that this post is about two months late. Nevertheless, here it is, my meek attempt at lifestyle blogging.

Once upon a time, a crazy senseless girl was sent to a city that actually had a decent shopping mall. One day, she finally decided to look like a girl. Looking at her collection of footwear, which consisted of one pair of red rubber shoes she's had since 2007, one pair of sandals that was slowly falling apart, a pair of silver high heels that she would only wear if she really had to, and a pair slippers she uses around her humble abode, the girl knew she had to buy herself another pair of shoes. Doll shoes perhaps.

So she set out to buy a pair of doll shoes. At first try, she successfully bought a cute pair of black doll shoes. She wore it right out of the box, but when she got home, blisters had already appeared on her poor feet. She knew how it would end up if she continued to wear the cute doll shoes, so she gave it to charity. Okay, it wasn't to charity but to a dear friend we shall call Lemony.

There goes her doll shoes.

[actually, I can't find the pictures, so you'll just have to imagine one of S&H's black doll shoes.]

By June 2, the amazing malls of dear Cebu decided to give their beloved customers a back-to-school sale, which they always do during this season. And the girl, having good reason to buy shoes, went and fought the tides of human bodies squishing their way into the giant piece of compartmentalized money-collecting structure normal people call a mall. There she spent hours upon hours browsing the shops, holding the doll shoes that caught her eye, examining the details (and the price tags!), and analyzing the fashion-functionality factor.

"The ribbon's too big."

"The color's all wrong."

"This makes my feet look big."

"This pair looks like school shoes."

All day, for about two days, she walked around the mall until her mind turned to mush and her feet were sore. By the end of the second day, she was disappointed, heartbroken, and depressed at her inability to decide, her lack of fashion sense, and her overanalyzing brain functions. Finding a pair of doll shoes was just so much hard work and it takes so much skill that she obviously wasn't able to learn during the early years of her life.

So she did what any other crazy girl would do--splurge on something else. Like this.

 Items in the picture include Hydro Splash BB Cream, Lovely ME:EX Angel Skin Loose Powder, Blemish Zero Toner and Clinic Solution, and Vita A and Vita C mask sheet.

Actually, the only stuff she paid for here are the BB cream and the loose powder. The rest were free because she's cute and cuddly.

[Note: Changing point of view here because I can't third-person myself anymore. =)]

Everyone's been talking about BB creams lately. Okay, not everyone, but I've heard a lot about it and yes, I've also tried it once before. I used Maybelline's BB cream and it was okay, though I was never able to talk about it here. Blame the procrastinating person writing this now. So I set off to buy another one. A BB cream that was actually a product of Korea where BB creams originally came from.

The Hydro Splash, as its name suggests, has a moisture-rich formula and keeps the skin soft throughout the day. (Shucks, I sound like I'm advertising.) The friendly store attendant at The Face Shop was helpful in saying that this is the BB cream most office girls bought. It is good for oily skin types because it doesn't really, I don't know how you call it, make your face oily. Well, at least not as much as other foundations probably would. It also has an even coverage, whatever that means. All make-up terms aside, I like this BB cream because it really doesn't make my skin that much oily, sitting all day in an air-conditioned room and freezing to near death (kidding). One-up for this product.

And since creams are not enough and powders will always be my friend now that we live in such a polluted world, tada!

What's special about this loose powder is that it smells good. Yes, I can smell powder without sneezing. Oh wait, maybe that's why my nose feels clogged whenever I use it. Hmm. Anyway, this powder is so sheer that it's barely there, but it's really there. I especially like the puff and yes, I'm running out of whatever make-up people say when talking about stuff like face powder. =)

So on to the freebies! Don't we all just love freebies? Well, technically they weren't free because I had to buy the stuff above first, but really, once in a lifetime's not bad.

The Blemish Zero line is made especially for faces that love to plant dirt and grow pimples. Sometimes it's just hormones and other times it's just pollution and stress. Nevertheless, pimples are part of life and blessed are those who go through adolescence without experiencing a pimple on their face. For those who are also blessed to go through such a stage, I can half-say that the Blemish Zero line works on sensitive skin. Since it's made for Korean skin and most of them have sensitive skin, suffice it to say that it works for me. This actually has a facial wash, which is step one of the treatment, but they only gave me the second and third treatments.

The last time I went to the shop, they were out of toners. I guess that's because toners are the easiest and safest to use. You can use whatever facial wash works for you then apply the Blemish Zero toner. If you have that tiny bump of a pimple on your face right now, the clinic solution can really flatten that out. This one is the medicine of the group. I'm guessing (again) that most people would only use this if there's an urgent need to make the pimple disappear. This treatment also minimizes the possibility of letting the pimple mark your face forever.

These masks. Yes. I don't exactly know what they really do but they're fun to use. Makes me feel like I'm kind of a girl. Though I don't really prefer using stuff like that, if that's your kind of thing then you'll enjoy these masks. =)

Isn't it obvious that I have no idea what I'm talking about? =)

Now having satiated the urge to splurge, I went home still thinking about the doll shoes. Yep, if there are things that can make me so frustrated, I'd have to nominate buying girly stuff would top that list. Here's my secret to avoid overspending: In my case, I walk around the stores and check every single item that I want to buy. Then I go out and check other stores. By the time I've finished my tour, I'd be too confused as to which item I want that I'd end up not buying anything. Isn't that so simple?

But since we're talking about actually getting the cash out of your pocket, here's my second splurge of June. (Did I mention that all this happened two months ago?)

Somebody once said something about giving a girl a pair of shoes and she can conquer the world. I don't know who said that and I'm too lazy to search it, but if I were given shoes to conquer the world, it would be pairs and pairs of rubber shoes. (Fine, I'm also in love with high heels but I never really get to wear them anymore.) So if I can't buy myself a pair of doll shoes because of my apparent lack of interest in that department, I headed down to one of the stores I have so long desired to enter and exit with a bag of goodies.

Lo and behold, wish granted.

Aren't they pretty? (I meant to say puurrrty but that's just spelled wrong.) I was going for something different and well, that's the best I can get without having to worry about what colors I'd have to wear it with. And the tongues are just perfect for those who have no color-matching skills like me.

Now for those who've seen me in the flesh, or those who at least have seen photos that include my feet, you may have known that I'm a sucker for rubber shoes. Rubber shoes are my staple footwear and in college I can probably count the number of times I didn't wear rubber shoes to class. In fact, after college, I purposely looked for a job that didn't require a uniform so I could wear my trusty rubber shoes every single day! So it would be weird really to say that this is my first ever real Converse shoes.

Sure, I've worn rubber shoes with this logo before, but they were . . . hmm, let's just say more affordable than the mall-sold ones. So this pair is special because it comes with a bag and a tag and the real receipt from a real Converse store. Aside from that, this is even more special because I bought it with my own money. Yeah! Salaried life is beneficial. =)

I'm going to shut up now and just bask in the wonder that a pair of rubber shoes can shine on someone like me.


Silence is over.

Okay, to quench the thought that I've been splurging on unnecessary stuff, I'd like you all to know that the red rubber shoes I had since 2007 is almost dead, but still wearable. It has too much of an emotional value to me that to see it die a cruel death would destroy me. So I bought the Converse as an alternative.

These are my favorite babies and will forever be special to me.

To end this rather long post, I'd like to go into a short message about sales.

Sales and discounts, price slashes and special offers, they all promise to give us the chance to own something. Yes, it involves money and that's what we're all really working for, right? Well, not all of us, but most people work to get money. And when we end up in a mall with a sale, the money finds its way out of our pockets. One thing I'd just really like to emphasize is that sometimes we believe that sales are only one time. Well, they're not. No, not really. And if you don't really need it now, there will be a next time. And if next time the item you wanted is gone, then there's another item for you. And what I really really want to say is that sometimes we try to run around for something that we don't really need when all we really need is right in front of us.

Why do we have to look for stuff we can't have yet? Why do we spend so much on things we can live without? Why do we keep on spending, thinking that next payday is coming soon enough and we'll have more money to spend again?

Everything in this world is temporary. The things of this world will pass, but there are things that will remain. No matter what. If you want to know what those things are . . . Matthew 24:35 . . . and since you're reading that, you can go ahead and read John 3:16 too.

Yeah, this temporary world will soon disappear, and we all better have practiced what we'll do for the rest of eternity. Have an awesome life everyone!