I managed to clear through thirty thousand plus unread emails in my inbox and started the new year with an organized work space. Incidentally, the Fiber internet connection was installed on the day that my chickenpox was confirmed and that gave me ample time, housebound as I was, to do a lot of work at home and on my computer.

When New Year came tumbling by, we were ready. Among us, we have 5 mobile phones, one iPad, 3 MacBooks, 3 external hard disks, 2 mobile chargers, 4 mobile data plans, 1 GoPro, 2 Nikon bodies, 3 lenses, and not enough time nor energy to use them all. Even though we try to live a minimalist lifestyle, technology is one thing we cannot manage to live without or not splurge on. It is, after all, how we are able to connect with family, friends, our customers, and the world. We are a traveling family, and we will always be, even if we have decided to stay put in Italy for the meantime so that Lia can go to school consistently and have a normal childhood.

The past seven years of Lia’s life were nothing short of normal, having had 8 homes and having been to 13 countries and 27 cities, and many planes, flight hours, and airports in between. As a a family, we have had at least four businesses, and she was a big part in all of them. She possesses entrepreneurial and social skills, and has made many friends around the world.

This year, things would pretty much be the same but also a lot more different.

Now blessed with a lovely home, I struggle to keep everything neat and organised. Pinterest has been such a great help to me these past months – assisting me in designing the flat for renovations; choosing themes and colour palettes; decorating, and now organising. I now have a good home and my primary job is to be a good homemaker.

I make weekly meal plans and grocery lists. We strive to eat according to season, and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables from local grocers that put up stalls every morning at the square near our home. I try to live by my goal of eating natural and organic, being environmental-friendly by bringing my own biodegradable and reusable plastic bags and paper bags, and segregate our trash accordingly.

We live a minimalist lifestyle by only buying what we need. This applies to personal care and even clothing. Years ago, I decided to clean out my closet. It took four years of slowly getting rid of things I did not actually like or need. Some time ago I also realised that being an environmentalist also went hand in hand with being a minimalist, so I decided to invest on good quality and expensive clothing, and made the effort of keeping and following the washing instructions to best preserve them. I was Kondo-ing even before the word Kondo came out. I am a strange person and maybe I am becoming more and more strange as years go by.

I left my family home in Camarines Sur, a province south of Manila in the Philippines, when I was seventeen to go to university. I started living with other people, flat-sharing and having roommates. I was not an easy person to live with. I was young, spoiled, and most likely, insensitive. I struggled. I moved so many times, my father considered billeting me in the university hotel. My brother and sister joined me in the city and we found a house just outside of his university, but even then, I could not get along with my own sister. I wandered around for some years after that, living with generous friends who loved me dearly for a month or two at a time. My mother bought a flat in a then-undeveloped part of the city of Taguig, where now high-rises, and malls are, some time after. and I lived there alone, until I decided to move to a remote little town in the northernmost part of Palawan in 2012 to take up a job teaching young children in a small privately-owned school. I knew I was a person who’s difficult to live with, but I wanted to change that. All those years I struggled to fit in and be somebody one could call “normal.” It was difficult. Eventually, one finds out that “normal” is just a word that somebody made up. Although eventually, I succeeded in being able to get along with people. So much so that years later, I was in the field of public relations, customer service, and tourism. One would have never expected that of me!

I am still a difficult person to live with. Even those who love me deeply can attest to that. I am best at writing and not very good at talking, especially about emotions. My family was not very keen on communication, verbal nor physical. I am still improving on it now.

I am currently working on a lot of things. Although above all, I am working on making things, my family, and most of all, myself, better. Because life is short and full of surprises, and I must always be ready for whatever life throws my way. Sometimes I wake up and feel lethargic and everything is gloomy, but I look forward to the days when there will be the sun, and for that there is always hope.