That thing they call “nesting”…discovering (and rediscovering) the joys of staying home

“The ultimate luxury is being able to relax and enjoy your home.”

~Jeff Lincoln

Attitude is everything and in such a situation as being forced to stay home for an extended period like what’s happening now with this pandemic, it’s either we wallow in frustration or we embrace it and for many including myself, we chose the latter.

So we settled in and “nested” – a condition that makes us do stuff for our home and in our home: decorating and redecorating it; purchasing things to re-create the “experience” we used to do outside but could not do now like fine dining, reading a book at a cafe, going to the salon, having a massage, watching a movie on the big screen and many more.

I moved around some pieces of furniture. This one used to be in a section at the garage which has been brought up to the balcony by five men as the daybed is very heavy.

To entertain ourselves, we looked for activities to do and new hobbies to be occupied with. Plantherapy trended giving birth to the monikers “plantitas and plantitos”. Photos of home-cooked food also flooded IG and FB (and I had many of these as well) and more tiktok videos uploaded.

I am no different. As a family whose weekend routine always included dining out and going to the malls, it was hard at first but we slowly got used to it. Saturdays became my movie days with my teenage daughter and we discovered that we both like watching true stories of sports icons and athletes as well as underdogs. My daughter loves to cook and bake so her dad and I were happy recipients of her experiments. The culinary skill of my niece was optimised too and my foray of the kitchen resulted to compliments from my husband and daughter. We realised that birthdays and anniversaries can be special too even if celebrated only at home. In fact, I like it more with celebrations that started with a special breakfast and ended with a fine dinner.

So I started buying pretty dining wares from the online marketplace to complete the fine dining experience at home and satisfy my shopaholic cravings. The Dalgona coffee and oatmeal cookies of my daughter became an afternoon treat and as the quarantine went into extension after extension, I went farther into re-creating the home experience. One luxury purchase I made, justified as a birthday gift to myself, was this wonderful Breville Home Barista Express https://www.breville.com.ph/the-barista-express that allowed me to make specialty coffees at home.

I joined the plant craze and started collecting different varieties of monstera, philodendron, aglaonema, fittonia, calathea and rubber trees and gained more knowledge as I researched on how to care for them and the benefits they bring to the home. Having this penchant for aesthetics, I went further deep into repotting my babies in lovely (and pricey…sigh) clay pots. Having these plants led me to reinvent some spaces in our home which now offer a more relaxed and refreshing vibe.

I also was finally able to start writing blogs which was something I wanted to do for sometime now but didn’t find the time to start.

When we go back to being able to do more of the going out stuff, I think it won’t be the same for me as this nesting have taught me the ultimate luxury of enjoying home.

Yoga…it’s more than just toned muscles

There are two sets of reactions that I get when I mention that I do yoga – there are those who gesture a meditation pose and say “uhmmmm” and others say, “oh, I can’t do those poses” – both reflect the common impression that yoga is just about meditation and headstands.

That’s a very limited view of yoga. Both meditation and headstands are part of it and as yoga is a journey, you start from where you are. There are yoga routines for everyone. (So, for those with medical or physical conditions, it is always best to consult your doctor and a trained yoga practitioner (yogi).

There are many types of yoga. In fact, there are over a dozen so you can choose what suits you. I consider myself just a little above a beginner and while I can do some challenging asanas (yoga poses), I still continue to work on my headstand with some progress especially during this time (of pandemic) where I can practice more. I love Vinyasa Yoga (vinyasa is a Sanskrit word for “flow”) which is fun and as the term implies, makes you do a series of poses that flow gracefully. Hatha yoga is another favourite as it focuses on posture and is a great stress reliever especially after a long day. I also love Jivamukti yoga classes that I used to attend which includes chants and meditative music as well as various asanas that will surely challenge your strength, flexibility and balance. There’s Bikram (hot yoga) and Iyengar (uses props like ropes, chairs, blocks, , straps, etc) too and the latter is oftentimes prescribed with those who have physical conditions.

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self and to the self. ~The Bhagavad Gita http://www.happier.com

The Harvard Medical School lists 5 benefits of doing yoga which summarises what we can get out of it: Read more https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat

  • A better body image – yoga practice encourages acceptance of self as a starting point and it cultivates your awareness on how you feel; never forcing something you cannot do yet at this time (but if you choose to, you can in due time as you gain strength and flexibility (which you will for as long as you are committed to practice)
  • Becoming a mindful eater – researchers found a link between mindful eating (eating based on what’s good for you) and yoga practice
  • A boost to weight loss and maintenance – studies show that those who practice yoga for at least 30 minutes three times a week gained less weight in the 4-year duration of the research than those who did not and those who practised had lower body mass index (BMI)
  • Enhancing fitness – practising yoga improves one’s flexibility and mobility and tones the muscles in a balanced way from head to toe; it also improves strength, balance and endurance.
  • Cardiovascular benefits – many studies show improved conditions in people with hypertension and diabetes; medical studies also point that yoga improve lipid profiles of both healthy individuals as well as those with coronary artery diseases.

Since I also do long distance running, yoga is the perfect complement. Running uses the same muscle groups and stretching the hard-to-reach muscles and joints which yoga does help avoid injuries.

Another great benefit from yoga is the fact that it teaches correct breathing. That kind of breathing that nourishes the entire body. Each practice makes you focus on the breath and as you do, allows you to slow down your heart beat. As a result, you feel so relaxed. Yoga Breathing or pranayama had been extensively studied and has been proven to decrease stress, improve sleep quality, increase mindfulness, reduce high blood pressure and improve lung function. Read more of this: https://www.healthline.com/health/pranayama-benefits

Just doing the basic poses like downward and upward dog, warrior 1, 2 and 3, plank and side plank, vinyasa flow, chair and bridge is enough to release buckets of sweat and gives you that sense of accomplishment giving you the passage to do the well-deserved savasana (final resting pose) which integrates everything you did during the session.

I hope I have provided you more reasons and motivation to start your yoga journey. So…see you on the mat!

The beauty in simplicity…Bohol!

This place exudes warmth and you feel that the moment you land in the new Panglao International Airport. The endless trees on one side and the ocean on the other welcome you like family embracing you after a long absence.

I love the simplicity of Bohol and yes, it’s one of my happy places here in my home country, the Philippines. Bohol, for me, affirms that there really is beauty in simplicity. It’s less crowded white beaches, many options of beautiful resorts (but not the sprawling types that tend to be intimidating), the island hopping with little coves of super fine white sand, the butterfly and firefly gardens, the bee farm, the tarsier sanctuary, the historic churches, the Chocolate Hills (the country’s 3rd National Geological Monument), the man-made forest, the caves, waterfalls, the relaxing Loboc River cruise…the list is long and that means, you will not run out of activities to do. The variety of things to do gives both the adventurous and those who prefer just to get away from the busy city life so many to choose from. Dining places offering good food also abound at prices that are budget-friendly. Just like the place, the Boholanos, in general are simple. They have that aura in them that’s warm and welcoming; that makes you feel you’re home.

Bohol is also a historical destination. The Blood Compact Shrine is one monument that tells of the first international treaty of friendship between Spain and the Philippines. The massive churches that abound in Bohol with almost each of its 47 towns having one is another interesting story. (Trivia: Do you know that these churches are products of forced labor brought about by a revolt in the 1620s?) Read more about this here: https://www.bohol-philippines.com/bohol-church.html

I brought my family there a few years ago as a gift to my mother whose wish is to celebrate her birthday with us siblings and her beloved “apos” (grandchildren). I love gifting my loved ones with travels rather than with material things as experience is more lasting and leaves wonderful memories. (Too bad, my other sister Anne and her family is based in Abu Dhabi and could not join us.)

Two years ago, an epic reunion happened in this idyllic place. This time with my childhood best friends. Friends I made when we were still innocent of the world as we started being friends when we were 5 or 6 years old being neighbors, church mates and classmates.

You don’t have to have anything in common with people you’ve known since you were five. With old friends, you’ve got your whole life in common.

~Lyle Lovett

It was a reunion I thought could not happen as we are spread across the globe – Lanny is based in New York; Vivien in Los Angeles, Lyncie in Toronto, Marylene in Cebu, Jeany in our hometown in Cotabato and myself in Manila. But it did! Thanks to the wedding of Vivien’s beautiful daughter to a charming young man whose family hails from Bohol. We all said yes and ended as principal sponsors of such a lovely and meaningful wedding celebration in an islet of a beautiful resort in Panglao.

Our reunion is very, very meaningful to all of us as it was the first time for us to get together as a group after 35 years! The first and “only” time we are complete because we lost one recently. Our dear Marylene went up to a better place less than two months ago. We could have been together for our second reunion last May in Dumaguete but Covid-19 got in the way. Bohol will forever be etched in our hearts as a place where we had the best bonding times.

The first and only time we are complete because our dear Marylene went up to a better place. (Maybe, she was saying goodbye in this picture?)

When I go to Bohol again (and for sure, will go there again and again), it will be nostalgic and that makes Bohol a much more special “happy place” for me.