Lessons Learned in 2013 and Things I’m Thankful For

First off, Merry Christmas my dear readers. I do wish you are all enjoying this holiday season wherever you are. I am stuck here in Dubai and I have been celebrating Christmas since the 24th evening with friends and colleagues. I always feel giddy and excited during this time of the year, after all – it’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. 🙂

This is my 7th Christmas in Dubai and I must say that there are a lot more Christmassy stuff this year compared to the past years in this Muslim city. I am grateful for that but of course, I can never compare it with the Christmas vibe that we have in the Philippines. It’s just more grand back home and the Filipinos are extra happy during this time of the year – probably because of the mandatory 13th month pay that they get from their jobs? :p I do miss the Noche Buena meal that we have as a family during Christmas eve, the jamon de bola that we will also eat on Christmas morning with our pandesal. YUM! I also miss opening presents which became less and less as I grow older, apparently – Santa Claus only gives gifts to children who are 11 years and below. Oh well!

A lot of things happened to me in the past year but what affected me truly was the typhoon Yolanda which hit the Philippines last month. After that unfortunate event, I tried to teach myself to be more grateful of what I have and not complain too much. So here, I give you a list of the things that I’m thankful for and also some other lessons 2013 taught me:

I am thankful for the job that I have.

Very recently, I have received an email from a new travel operator in Dubai offering me a team leader position with almost double the salary that I am currently getting now. After weighing the pros and cons, I realized that I actually love my job and the company that I am working for. It’s not always about the money, it’s the satisfaction that you get for doing what you love which matters. Of course, the travel benefits that I am getting with the current company cannot be beaten by any other companies out there too. So yes, I am staying and have declined the offer.

I am thankful that I am capable of fulfilling my wants and not just needs.

For quite some time, after the typhoon hit the Philippines – I refrained from eating out. I somehow feel bad a little that I am going to have a lavish dinner or lunch when a lot of people in the Philippines doesn’t even have clean water for drinking. I know that refraining myself from eating out doesn’t make a difference for them but it somehow appeases my mind and in some ways, I feel like I am showing my solidarity with them by doing so. Right after that, when I finally allowed myself to live my normal life – I am much more aware of this blessing, that I may have more than what I really need. I vowed to myself that I’ll try to donate something yearly to charity organizations.

I am thankful for the trip my company sponsored for me this year.

I was sent to Disneyland Paris for 3 days and 2 nights and to Marriott Champs Elysees Paris for a night last April. The Disney part made me all giddy and excited as it’s my first time to be in the happiest place on earth. On top of that, I was able to experience the business class seat of an Emirates Airline A380 aircraft. So yes, I am very very thankful for that as I probably won’t be able to afford all those myself – at least for now. 🙂

I am thankful as well that I am capable of financing my own travels.

This year, I traveled to two countries for my holiday – Greece and Thailand. My Greek holiday is probably the highlight of 2013 whereas the Thailand one is also memorable as I was with my aunt who celebrated her 70th birthday this year and the trip was my gift to her. I am thankful that I am capable of doing these trips on my own and being able to finally give back something to my aunt who raised me. 🙂

I am thankful that my family is safe and in good health.

Living so far away from my family, it is always my wish and hope that they will always be safe and will have good health. My aunt who is now 70 years of age and who raised me as her own child was still able to travel to Hua Hin with me like how we used to do it when I was younger. Maybe a little more laidback and slower now but she was still able to go up and down the steep steps of Khao Luang Cave in Hua Hin, so I am thankful for that – along with my mom and other members of my family who are also safe and in good health.

I learned that there is no impossible task if you put your whole heart and mind to it.

The charity event that I have organized for the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines ate my brains for quite a long time – but never had it occurred to me to cancel it. I was very determined to finish what I have started even if it was my first charity event and I don’t even have any background of event organizing. With the help of some friends and bloggers, I was able to pull it off. A lot of people asked me, why are you doing this? Going thru all the hassle of organizing a charity event? My only answer to them is because I’m human and it’s the least that I can do.

Lastly, I am thankful for the friends that I have here in Dubai who are all keeping me sane. Of course, the boyfriend is part of it but maybe he made me sane more than anyone else here in Dubai.

What’s your story for 2013?


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  • Rhey January 9, 2014 at 01:19


  • nadamohammed December 30, 2013 at 00:22

    It’s very important to be grateful for what we have. Many times, we take things for granted…I adore people who have your mentality of appreciating and knowing the value of the things that they have. Having lived in Saudi for most of my life, I am always thankful for the simple freedoms…and although I’m still struggling to be completely independent, I’m still grateful for the ability to fight for my own dreams and the privilege to continue doing what I want to do and chasing it until it’s a reality.
    Not sure if I have a story for 2013, but starting my journalism course would have to be a great thing to be thankful for 🙂

  • findmeabreak December 28, 2013 at 10:23

    Aww Noemi – this post makes me appreciate more on what I have. I’m looking forward for more of your social work and will try to help if possible 🙂

  • Mitzie Mee December 27, 2013 at 22:07

    Great post. It’s easy to forget to appreciate what you already have (guilty as charged).

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    Welcome to my blog! My name is Noemi, a Filipina who caught the travel bug at an early age and has never been cured. I blog about travel, food and my extraordinary mundane life in London with the Greek Mister.

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