Priorities in life

Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power. – Covey Stephan

“What a toxic week! Unexpected things keep on filing up and my time is not enough …” says an infuriated friend. “Can we meet at Stressa ?”

Off I went to Stressa, a 15 minute drive from where I live. It’s my favorite hiding place from the chaotic lifestyle in Milan where I work.


While waiting for my friend, I decided to walk around the lake shore of Lago Maggiore mulling over the subject: are 24 hours not enough? are there too many things in life that are impossible to bear?

Suddenly, I saw a woman carrying a big empty jar. Eureka! That’s it! How could I’ve forgotten it? A tiny film in my mind begins emerging from the dark corners of my memory bringing me back to my adolescent years.

I see my grandfather holding a big empty glass jar instructing me and my cousins to gather some pebbles and big stones; sands and to bring glasses of “buko” (Pilipino for young coconut) juice,  agreeing to meet him by the shore afterwards.

We all like our grandfather. He is funny, has lots of stories to tell and behind the many creases on his face lie a thousand wisdom.

Playfully gigling around our “lolo” (Pilipino for grandfather), we lay down the stuffs he asked us to bring. He starts filling up his jar with big stones and he then asks us if the jar is full. “YES!” we agree laughingly!

Then he asks my cousin to pour the pebbles from his sack into the jar. Shaking the jar lightly, the pebbles roll in between the spaces of the big stones. “Puno na ba itong garapon?” (is the jar full?) he asks us again. “Opo!” (polite term for YES) .

He nudges my other cousin to pour the sand into the jar and voila and it fills up every spaces. Same question, same answer.

Without any sign of approval, he pours inside the jar two glasses of coconut juice and in effect, filling everything there is. Looking at our eyes and trusting our worldly minds, he serenely speaks:

“I want you to remember that this jar is  similar to your life.

The big stones are the important things; the pebbles are your secondary choices; the sand is everything else: the minor ones.

If you put the sand into the jar first there is NO room for the pebbles or the big stones. It holds true for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the minor things, you will never have room for the important ones.

Try to select carefully which are critical to your happiness: close family relationships, health and well-being, meaningful work, long term friendships, supportive community, creative pursuits, travel and adventure, financial freedom, spiritual life, etc

Take care of the big stones first – the things that really matter. Focus on your top five priorities and every 6 months, evaluate how much attention are you giving them.

List your priorities. The rest is just sand.

Don’t let anything come between you and what truly matters most to you!

Raising up my hand I ask: what about the coconut juice? Smiling he says: “No matter how full your life may be, there’s always room for a  glass filled of coco juice with a friend.”

Here comes my friend now, a cup of cappucino will perk us up like my grandfather’s “buko” juice story.

 My life and its contents

NEXT:  Priorities Quotes


Angelina Jolie a sinner and saint

Life and death, energy and peace. If I stop today it was still worth it. Even the terrible mistakes that I made and would have unmade if I could. The pains that have burned me and scarred my soul, it was worth it,for having been allowed to walk where I’ve walked, which was to hell on earth, heaven on earth, back again, into, under, far in between, through it, in it, and above.

– by Gia Marie Carangi 1960-198


It was the first time I saw Angelina Jolie on screen, portraying Gia (1998) and I was seduced by her beauty, acting talent and intelligence.  Through the years, I saw her seemingly “symbiotic” life which she never denied.  She is head strong to live her life as she really wanted it to be!

I applaud her taking part of humanitarian movement and giving 1/3 of her income for its cause.  I admire her honesty and personality. I am sad when people bitch slapped her romantic choices in life,  constantly pointing to her mistakes and weaknesses.

Who are we to judge?

There is this work of art — a painting entitled Blessed Art Thou — that employs saintly-looking images of Angelina Jolie and her kids.  As usual, a lot of criticisms or controversies came from different religious groups.  Oh those Pharisee! When are they going to learn to stop claiming the judgement throne??

 click for a full view >>>>>  angelina1.jpg


Her rocky personal life, philanthropy works, and movie star status give me a lot to think about.  She is a complete woman. She is a real human being: a sinner and saint!