A Realization From A Broken Piece Of Art

Pickup the pieces… 

Okay, so I have this one particular painting that I really adore. <See featured photo.>

It was not an original. Most likely an imitation. I, however, love looking at this work of art. So I placed this piece in the living room of my old apartment. Then, five years back, when I moved to my condo I brought it with me. I placed it at the wall facing the door, so that every time I open the door its view would be the first to greet me.

Probably, many of you are thinking that it is not even a stunner. Agree.

Just the same I like looking at this.

It was the first painting that I bought. I got it from Ecuador. And, I had it wood-framed in Quiapo, Manila — using a classy, dark brown frame. The painting, coupled with the wooden framing, was really nice to look at.

My problem with this piece started when I moved to my condo. I was advised by the contractor — and the maintenance people (because I kept on insisting) — that I cannot hammer a nail on the wall facing the main door. The power circuit breaker and the water pipes for the fire suppression mechanism are on that wall. It would be dangerous to hammer a nail.

I was just told to consider placing a mini-bar instead.

There is, however, that saying that if one is intent on having what it like, one will do what it could to make things happen. I am a believer of that adage.

So I researched, and finally got what I wanted. I had the painting placed on that wall with the help of hanging strips.

But there was a problem…

Father time and the weight of the framed painting were putting too much toll on the strips. After a number of years, the painting suddenly dropped from where it was hanging. It partly damaged the frame. I tried my “Handy Manny” skills (a moniker given by my daughter when she was much younger), patching the damage and restoring the piece back to its original look. It has been like this for quite a while.

It would drop again, and I would fix it again.

And the cycle continued…

After several fixes, however, I find the frame severely damaged. It was beyond repair. So I made a bold decision to just throw everything away.

While I was on my way to throw the whole thing, it dawned on me that what was damaged was merely the frame. The painting was intact. Bruised but intact. And those can easily be fixed with what I have in my toolbox. I thought that there was no need for me to throw all away just because the frame cannot serve its purpose anymore.

So I brought the painting back with me. I restored the minor bruises. And, lo and behold, I had it back to its original place in an hour — less the frame (of course). I think that without the frame, the hanging strips were now able to carry the burden well. Yes, it was not that pretty without the original frame. But it is serving its purpose with lighter load for the hanging strips to manage.

Now, it’s hanging for almost a year now. Greeting me every time I open the door.

Friends, there are two take-away that I hope you get from this.

First, there are things that you cannot simply fix — physical possessions, relationships or even career-related concerns — because of what happened or what you have done in the past. It would not be healthy to linger around it. Sometimes you would be better off without the “extra parts”. Yes, the “extras” could assist you (in this case it made the painting looked glamorous). However, if the weight is too much to handle, then might as well let it go (and don’t go chasing it).

(In the first place, if I have not insisted on putting together the frame and the painting given that their weight as a whole was unbearable for the hanging strips, the frame would have not ended battered and damaged. The frame was really beautiful before this, and I am sure that it could have beautified other paintings — better paintings. Also, the people around it would not stress with the probability that the piece would suddenly drop and hit anyone or anything. So the painting, the frame and the people admiring it are actually better off if these are not together.)

Secondly, there are things (or situations) in our lives that could leave us hurting. Note that, like that painting, even if part of it (or you) is damaged, it does not mean that the whole thing is already damaged. It does not mean that you lost your talents, charm, beauty or “what-have-you”. You should pick up the pieces, then try to build something out of those. Your true beauty/potential is still there, and just hiding behind the haze. You just have to pick-up the pieces, and bounce back.

You could become just like that painting. Broken and frame-less but hanging on, and lingering for the world to see.

Believe me.



PS1: I a recommending that you find time to read as well “PICKUP THE PIECES AND JUST BOUNCE BACK” and “ALWAYS BOUNCE BACK“.

PS2: I am encouraging you to read this self-help book on bouncing back. This may help you gather the broken pieces and start your life anew.

The Bounce Back Book: How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses

“Salmansohn’s writing is bold, playful, insightful—with powerful metaphors that provoke and inspire. Her kinetic images amplify her message and take the book to a new level of literary experience.” – Deepak Chopra, author of Seven Laws of Spiritual Success

A bad breakup. A serious illness. The loss of a job. Life has a habit of throwing people curveballs. To which Karen Salmansohn says: “When life throws you curveballs, hit them out of the park.”

In The Bounce Back Book the dynamic author whose quirky self-help books—including How to Make Your Man Behave . . . and How to Be Happy, Dammit—mixes from-the-gut wisdom, humor, feistiness, and sophistication to create a hip, inspiring resource that will brighten the darkest mood. The book is grounded in happiness research, psychological studies, Greek philosophy. And it delivers: Here are 70 easily digestible, potentially life-changing tips on how to bounce back from adversity, each on a spread that’s as punchy in look as it is powerful in message.

“Shrink negativity into nuggetivity.” “Think of yourself as the type of person the world says yes to.” With its attitude, techniques, and advice on everything from exercise to staying connected, it is a full-on guide to moving forward with great positive energy.

Learn And Gain From Your Mistakes

“Wow! You are gaining traction as a business consultant! How did that happen?”

“I just learned how not to run a business…”


I have this friend, who I will not name in this article. But I so admire this person.

He underwent to many challenges in his life — particularly entrepreneurship-related. He ventured into so many businesses. However, most of these ventures failed. At the outset, his undertakings would look promising but then it would suddenly collapse. Then, I would see him moving to another business, dipping his hand in another project. The cycle, however, would turn its wheel. The new undertaking would fail (from what I knew).

However, one time I saw him in a small gathering. He was speaking in front of  entrepreneurial hopefuls. He was sharing advices on several areas — like bookkeeping, minimizing fraud, motivating employees — to name a few. And, I find his words sound.

A lot of people in that room were actually listening intently on what he was saying. I also saw many in the audience approaching him, and handing him their contact information after his talk. They were insinuating the need for possible part for him in their own projects.

It was really a good sight seeing him surrounded by those people asking for his assistance.

After everyone was gone, I approached and exchanged pleasantries with him. Then, I threw the one thought that was bothering me the whole time during that event. I asked him how he transformed into how he was right now. Knowing what I knew about his failed ventures, he simply smiled at me and answered:

“I just learned how not to run a business… And, I am simply sharing what not to do based on my realizations from those failures and mistakes that I went through.”

Wow! He made a consultancy practice out of the lessons he got from his failed ventures.

I had a sort of euphoria listening to him because he was a perfect example of a “person learning from his failures”. A business tenet that we keep on hearing that it sometimes crosses the line towards becoming a cliche.

I believe that his lead is what we all have to follow.

We all have our dreamed destination — winning big in the stock market, becoming a champion public speaker or a well-loved public servant. The journey, however, in realizing this is never easy. A lot of challenges would for certain haunt you. And a lot of times these will tax you financially, physically or even emotionally.

Do not let those mistakes stop you. Pick up the pieces and do what you could from the pieces that you were able to gather. Yes you fail but then think that you now know what not to do next time. Use these realizations to improve your self or to revisit your strategies.

I am sure that with continuous pushing, improving and evolving (and a dash of prayer), you will find your rightful place.

Believe me. We’ve seen this happening in other people. Trust that it will also happen to you.


PS: Featured image was taken from https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/11/14/03/38/achieve-1822503_960_720.jpg.

Always Bounce Back


“Cholesterol level dangerously high”

“You are at risk of a heart attack”

I was a walking time bomb ready to explode anytime because of my failing health.

I have hit rock bottom.

Fellow toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon:

I heard those lines after my annual medical exam. I was suddenly struck by the realization that I might die young. In fact I was dying slowly. It hit me hard.

I suddenly remembered my father.  Gone at the age of 45, exactly a month after hearing those lines from his doctor. We were devastated financially and emotionally. I’m nearing that age… the nightmare of dying young hit me hard.

In my desire to have a healthy body, I went through 3 attempts:

  • I joined a dragon boat team. The discipline of waking up early and rowing passionately at the Manila Bay came to a sudden stop when a flesh-eating bacteria got into a tiny cut in my leg. I was hospitalized for 5 days and spent P110,000.
  • I did juicing. It was working for some time but my mind was bombarded with thoughts of delicious food which my body was craving to take. On my third day, I splurged on a hefty serving of steak and mashed potatoes.
  • I attempted running. I would run every day until I felt a searing pain from my back down to my left knee. I ended up having slipped disks. It took weeks for me to recover.

Three attempts…three failures…They all hit me hard.

I was on the verge of giving up and let nature takes its course. I needed a rope to hang on, to get me back… Suddenly my eyes drifted to the pictures of the two most important people in my life.

  • Yuni- my 12 year old daughter. I want to provide the best for her and be with her as she goes thru her journey in life.  And should the right time come… walk her down the aisle and enjoy the company of my grandchildren.
  • Wanna- my life partner. We have been through life’s ups and downs. We knew how it was to be left by our fathers and saw how our mothers raised family as single parents.  I want to be with her until we grow old and grey…to experience life’s challenges and surprises together. I want to serve her, make her happy and love her…. forever.
  • Jake- yes I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to actualize my sense of purpose in helping others be the best they can be.  I want to provide for my loved ones and let them experience the things they have not experienced in the past.  I want to continue being amazed by what life is bringing me.

“Overweight”, “Cholesterol high” “At risk of a heart attack”.  These words shook me with such fear that I know I will not stop until I know I’ve done all I can to shift to be a healthy me – a life ensuring that I can be around longer.

Fellow toastmasters, in a world full of choices, let us always connect to our core being in consciously making and acting on decisions that really matter.  Be it in our health, in our career, in our relationship, let us be guided by our life vision and mission.

So where am I now?

I’m a work in progress. Regular exercises, right food and making each time count.

Fellow toastmasters, has anything hit you so hard that your world seemed to have fallen apart? Has anything hit you just as hard that your very life was threatened?

Don’t let it crush or devour you. Take a long honest look at what’s hitting you. Listen, act and do something before it destroys you. After all, whatever life throws at us, we can always hit back.

Contest chair.

Note: This speech was the one I delivered during the 2016 Division A Contest in the International Speech Category (where I ranked first runner-up). Thanks to my TM mentors for their continuous support and feedback –   Edith Garde, DTM; Ida Sih, DTM; Lavi Penaverde, ACG; and Mylene Bass, CC. Original Title was “HIT”.