Sharing Stories

Sharing Stories

By Rossana L. Llenado

Today is very special as we celebrate International Women’s Month and the first year anniversary of Smart Super Women.

We started S, as we fondly call it, to serve as a forum for smart super ladies to inspire other equally bright and busy women.

We asked people we admire to share with us their stories.

We asked leaders to share with us the secret of their success. We asked them to trace their roots, to speak to us about their vision, and to share with us their triumphs and tribulations.

We asked parents to share with us  how they raise their children. We asked them how they became so strong as they dealt with the challenges of modern parenting. Does your being strong benefit your children? Do you want your daughter to be as strong as you are?  These are the questions that we asked of them, the answers of which they gladly gave us.

We asked single successful career women to share with us the choices that they had to make. We asked them to tell us about the joys of freedom and independence and about how they sometimes had to conquer the specter of loneliness.

We asked everybody to share with us the events of their daily lives. What gives them joy? What matters to them, what concerns them, what jolts them into feeling?

By asking these questions, these leaders, parents, and women showed off the brilliance that is their education. Indeed, in one story after another, we saw how a good education proved to be the final touch that spurred a person to excellence and achievement.

This we did for the last 365 days.  They wrote. We posted. We shared.

Each essay is a celebration of one woman and of all women.

We hope to bring more inspiring essays in the coming years.  And we invite all of you to share your story, so that there will be more Smart Super Women out there.

The Year of Living Brilliantly

The Year of Living Brilliantly

By Jing Lejano

When we started the Smart Super Women blog exactly one year ago, we never thought that we’d play witness to daredevil feats of adventures. We wanted to hear inspiring stories of mothers, daughters, sisters, warriors, peacemakers, intellects, vamps, homemakers, career rats, readers, adventurers, and dreamers who were going through their everyday lives. But we didn’t think that they’d do so with such daring and gumption.

Take the case of Mari-An Santos, a cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines. We happily read about her trips to Thailand, when she suddenly revealed that she was packing her bags and moving to Romania! She had received a grant to pursue her Master’s degree in that European country. In her latest entry, she writes, “Studying in a foreign land has not only opened my eyes to the reality that I am a citizen of the world, it has made me appreciate my being Filipino all the more. Even as I learn about other peoples, cultures, and places, I have learned to value home even more.”

A collection of personal essays for and by women, the Smart Super Women blog was created to inspire its readers to tackle everyday challenges with courage and to work for the fulfillment of their dreams with conviction.

Most of the contributing writers are working mothers with school-aged children. They discuss such topics as careers and children, literacy and education, family and friends, and the quest for self-improvement. Because the writers contribute on a regular basis, readers have seen them tackle different challenges, resulting in a very interesting read.

There’s newspaper editor Gina Abuyuan, who never got around to traveling alone when she was single, but who finally had the nerve to roam the streets of Chiang Mai all by her lonesome now that she is “older, tougher, not afraid to tell someone off.” Her latest solo trip had her enjoying the sound of waves crashing at a beach side resort in the provinces. Oh, and may we add that she also recently opened a pub together with her life partner and some friends?

Of course, the adventures aren’t always of the adrenaline-pumping kind. Sometimes, we see these women finding epiphany in a cup of coffee shared with friends, in the few hours they sweat it out in the gym, or in the few minutes they spend with their children as they drive them to school.

But whether they’re raising their kids in the Philippines like writer Ruth Floresca, who’s a work-at-home mom to four boys, or juggling their time between career and home in Australia like editor Lyra Pore, who gets up at five in the morning to bring her daughters to the day care center, these women always find creative ways to make every opportunity a learning experience.

Ruth goes on date nights with her sons as a way of catching up with what’s going on in their lives. She writes, “It’s a continuous process, this getting to know one’s children because they grow up so fast and I don’t want to wake up one morning to find out that I don’t know anything about them anymore.”

Lyra Pore Villafana takes swimming lessons as a way of relaxing from the challenges of living an immigrant’s life. “Life overseas is so different to what we’ve all been used to… But doing something for oneself isn’t unique to Asian moms coping with the stresses of building a new life in a different country.”

Maridol Bismark bombards her sons with questions to learn her way in the digital world. She writes, “I work for an online entertainment portal. Every day, I am exposed to words and phrases that are just starting to make sense to me…I feel like a child lost in a newfangled world, groping for a hand to guide me. Fortunately, the hand belongs to the boy who appreciates everything that I’ve done and will still do for him.”

As these women continue on their journey to live, love, and learn in the modern age, Smart Super Women will be right alongside them, watching their every step, hoping to inspire others to live as fearlessly and as brilliantly as they do.

Riding in Cars with Boys

Riding in Cars with Boys

By Maridol Rañoa-Bismark

What do you do when you have to rush to work in the morning, beat deadlines in the afternoon, and get home ready to drop at night? Certainly not end the day without checking on your child whether he’s a tyke, a teenager, or a college-age young man like mine.

Sharon Cuneta’s commercial about coming home at night and checking on her sleeping children still strikes a chord in my heart, even if it’s been off the air for quite some time. It’s not that I harbor any illusions of being a Megastar; certainly not. It’s just that it paints the perfect picture of my life these days, so crazy that I can’t even catch my son while he’s awake.

How do I squelch the guilty feelings threatening to kill me with visions of a youth gone wild? By driving my son wherever he needs to be, that’s how.

In the mornings, I drive him to school. On weekends, I repeat the ritual when he has to go to a debate tournament or a required school event.

Trapped in the confines of my trusty vehicle, I strike up a conversation with my son. The poor guy—even if he’s about to nod off to sleep—responds. Never mind if it’s a vague “It’s OK” to my question about how the school fair went. That’s enough for a mom like me who’s anxious to connect with her son.

When I’m lucky, my son’s sentences are longer; his replies more colorful. He lets me into his world—a world where an older cross-enrollee acts like a know-it-all, making everyone snicker, and where teacher jokes rule. I feel like I’m part of a secret society where sorrow and laughter are shared. For a while, looming deadlines recede and the pressure of having to deal with rushed ideas fade. I am in a faraway land with my son—a land where life is simpler and I don’t have to deliver numbers to survive. It’s a breather in my hectic pace, a good rev-up for a brand-new work day.

Now you know why I won’t give up those morning drives for anything in the world except, perhaps, for a big breaking story. Our moments of bonding moments make me more human in the dog-eat-dog world I step into every working day. I remember what life is all about: feeling, sharing, being human.

Thank you, Ben, for making your harassed mom less of a monster and more of a human being through the years.

Featured Photo Courtesy of Cars Website

Old School Study Habits

Old School Study Habits

By Carmie Dulguime

As a student over 20 years ago, we didn’t need the Internet and all those sophisticated gadgets that children have today. We can proudly tell them that we passed with flying colors without going online for research or having a laptop to use for our reports. We didn’t have tablet PCs that can store our notes, and e-books for references. We also didn’t have the luxury of using online tutorial services to help us advance in our studies.

We used our brains for analyzing skills and memorizing, our hands for writing, our eyes for observing, and our ears for listening. Whatever kids today are doing with their digital aids, we did 10 times more with just our physical senses. We can argue that we were more creative and resourceful since we didn’t have the advantage of having an electronic study partner. But if you look at it, our old school study habits can actually work with today’s technology.

Early birds win: We are calmer, more focused, and more alert when we sleep early and wake up early before an exam. Kids today will argue that they have a lot to cover, so they need to stay up late. You can tell them how we used to do it: we study days before the exam so we have time for more sleep every night. Then we wake up very early to study again since our minds are fresh and alert to absorb more. This is even more useful for those accessing the Internet for studying since connection speed is usually faster early in the morning.

Flash cards for all ages: Kids, especially the older ones, might laugh at the idea, but flash cards will work forever. It’s more fun for studying that requires memorization. It also works better with a study partner. This is easier since there are now Powerpoint slides, Photoshop, or any other program that kids use to make the images for the flash cards. They don’t even have to print them out – just show them straight from the computer, mobile phone, or tablet PC screen.

Remembering the library: Kids probably don’t visit the library as much as we used to because of e-books and the Internet’s own library of millions of resources. But there is nothing like a good book as reference that assures you of credibility and reliability of source. The library is also a great place to study since everyone there is supposed to be quiet. There are computers and Internet access there as well, so there really is no excuse for not choosing the library as a study sanctuary.

Having a break: Getting sleepy, getting a headache, or feeling tired during study is an indication that the body has had enough. That’s the time we stand up, walk outside to get some air, or take a short nap. About 30 minutes to an hour should be good; longer than two hours might lead to distraction. The mobile phone is a good help here as an alarm when it’s time to go back to studying.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Surviving the Internet Age

Surviving the Internet Age

By Maridol Bismark

How does someone born at a time when computers were still unheard of survive in this techy world?  Bombard your child with questions, that’s how.

I work for an online entertainment portal. Every day, I am exposed to words and phrases that are just starting to make sense to me: URL, landing page, sites, chatting, etc. I even get my pay through a system that at first, I couldn’t make heads or tails of: sending a vendor summary form through the magic of Excel.

So I holler at my son, not once, but many times over, and ask him to take a look-see, fast! He looks up reluctantly from his books, rolls his eyes, and does as he is told. It helps that he’s still in school and relies on me for his tuition and daily allowance. In other words, he has no choice.  LOL (That’s laugh out loud!)

“Mom, just check what you see on the screen!” He tells me, half-pleading, half-incredulous.

I point to the button that says, “Do not click this Web site.” He clicks it while I watch with bated breath. Voila! The screen starts to respond!

Next, I point to YM (Yahoo messenger) and wail that I can’t see my previous messages. He clicks on the “show recent messages” part and everything appears right  before my eyes. I could have kissed his hands right then and there except that he’ll find it corny and laugh his head off.

Why, I can’t even get my pay if  not for his know-how of Excel!

Ah, the  joys and pay-offs of motherhood!

I hear the same story over and over again from classmates caught in the same situation. This doesn’t only apply to computers but to cellphones as well.

My editor sends me a text: “What’s the model of your cellphone?”

I text back: “Let me ask my son when he comes home from school.”

She replies, “I do that, too!”

I look at my son straight in the eye and say, “What will I do without you?”

I feel like a child lost in a newfangled world, groping for a hand to guide me. Fortunately, the hand belongs to the boy who appreciates everything that I’ve done and will still do for him.

So let the new jargon come, full blast. I will not be afraid. I have my son’s hand to hold when the going gets tough.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash