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Unveiled: My Life and Lessons as a Nun

A guest post by Melissa Tandoc of the Graciedo blog:

Having grown up in the Catholic faith my entire life in a very religious community and family, the call to know God was growing louder.

At the age of 20, I made a decision which would forever alter the course of my life. I decided to get hitched.

And I’m not talking marriage. I’m talking about a lifelong commitment to Jesus.

Dashing my parents hopes and dreams of a marriage, kids, a nursing career and dreams of going to America, I left it all behind to do something that felt so right in my life – to  become a nun.

The calling was so strong. I just had to be with Jesus at that moment.  Similar to Mother Teresa, I imagined a life of service to the poor. My mind was set on ‘doing’ things for God.

A journey of faith

The thing is, one has to be formed (prepared) before immersion (living in a mission area). It took several years of Bible studies, theology classes and tests in relationship before the real thing took place.

My spiritual mission started as a nurse in a private school. I asked my spiritual mentors, ‘how come I was assigned there when I wanted to be with the poor?’ However, within the months, I saw that the ‘poverty’ the rich children had there was deficiency of attention from their parents. They had all the material comforts of the world but with psychological and emotional issues of the modern world.  I have learned to embrace those children in their needs.

After a year, I was sent to live with the street children. With them, I learned that kindness isn’t in the softness of one’s voice. I learned how to be gentle and firm at the same time. I wanted to stay there with them but God has other plans.

The time came for me to go to a foreign mission and I said, yes, to a mission in North Africa. Preaching in North Africa was a no-no. And even if it were permitted, I couldn’t have done so with the little Arabic that I studied. It came to me as a surprise that some people there spoke Italian (it was an Italian colony before) and it was a huge relief!

Not all patients welcomed the idea of a ‘Christian’ working in their midst and some called me ‘kalba’ (female dog). It took years of working with them to finally call me ‘sorella’ (Italian for sister).

Preaching with words was prohibited but preaching with acts of love and kindness weren’t. Most of them said that, ‘Christians’ lit the dark rooms of the hospital where we worked.

I spent several years in North Africa, being a nun and serving as a hemodialysis nurse.

Maybe I could pause here because the next question will be, “If I were happy doing all these, how come I left?” And that would be another story (and another future post).

In taking this path, here are 5 lessons from my spiritual journey as a nun:

 Take life at your own pace. I decided to enter the convent at a time when most of my friends built their careers, dated and created their own families. Instead of following a set path and doing what others were doing, I did things on my own pace and time.

It’s something similar to child or a plant. We grow through our experiences.

Respect your own pace.

  Spiritual direction and trust is necessary. The answer to life is not in the formulas nor in the seven-steps to this and that. There are no quick answers nor shortcuts in living life fully.

We need modern day saints, holy more than spiritual people (priests, nuns), who could guide us in discerning our path.

Allow God to lead. Yes, we did psychology to understand ourselves better. But there are limitations to science. We couldn’t rely on psychology to heal us. I dare people to have faith that God works in our lives and to listen to the path that God has for you.

My greatest teacher and mentor, Jesus, was my guide to entering and then leaving this path that I had chosen.

->If religious life is not your cup of tea, then learn to discern . Your inner voice,  will tell you.

Go back to the roots. Dig deep. We are taught to forget our past. But I think we should do the opposite.  Reread your history with God’s eyes – in faith and openness.

Embrace your past and use your past as an opportunity to grow in faith. In the alternative, use ALL your experiences to be the best person you can be today. You are who you are because of your story.

Don’t dwell in it but don’t forget it neither.


The lessons learned in the convent are helping me live more humbly in my regular life today.

I am reminded not to have the ‘holier than thou’ attitude or judgment of others. We are all journeying together ~ some further along and others at the starting point.

Where you are on your spiritual journey is fine.

In my next post, Vishnu has asked me to write about how I began a new life outside the convent. Update: Part 2 Unveiled: Why I left? When should you?

To pick up a copy of my book, Is God Listening?, about God, spirituality and resilience, click here.  

How to consciously choose positive and uplifting thoughts [a guest post by Kimbundance]

How to consciously choose positive and uplifting thoughts [a guest post by Kimbundance]


We're going to have to stay positive on this one, team

Our conscious thoughts run wild as soon as we awake in the morning. ”What am I going to eat for breakfast? What’s the weather like today? When is that presentation due?”

These are the conscious thoughts that bombarded some of our most precious and powerful minds. These recurring thoughts build up in our minds and become just, “normal” thoughts.

What if we could change those numb thoughts and have more positive thoughts?

These positive thoughts are ones that help us throughout our life; they provide us with a beautiful present moment and an amazing future. I couldn’t stress the importance of starting the day with a happy thought.

Just as we can control the speed of a car, we can control the conscious thoughts in our mind. In addition, just as we driving is a privilege, so is it a privilege to think more conscious & enlightening thoughts in our heads.

Early Thoughts

Throughout many years of growing up, I wasn’t always conscious of my thoughts at all and I admit that sometimes my own thoughts were of:  judgment, sadness, resentment and pride.

In high school, I remember times when I would wake up in the morning and just play every single negative event that was going to unveil that day. Since our thoughts are so powerful, most of those negative thoughts were the ones that exactly played out. As a result, my body would get fed up with me and would present me with headaches. My body was signaling to me that my lacks of positive thoughts were ailing my body.

Somewhere towards the end of my college days was when I had my paradigm shift and for that shift, I am humbly grateful.

My paradigm shift

It started when my older brother introduced me to the book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. After reading it, the words resonated with me like nothing I’ve ever read before.

I began noticing small things like the effects of quieting the mind and being grateful for small thing such as clean running water or my hands to type. Like any concept, this one made me wonder and ask questions so I did online research; I stumbled upon my favorites such as Eckhart Tolle and Louise L. Hay.

Those first years enlightened me for the rest of my life. I decided that from that point on that whatever I consciously decide to put into my mind will be investing thoughts that will better me today and an even better tomorrow.

Although, I am not perfect and I have to constantly remind myself to come back to the present moment and just think in terms of gratitude, bettering myself, those around the world.

Not only can your thoughts better yourself but they can better other people around the world. Our thoughts are like energy wave forms, so whatever positive or negative thought we think about others, I believe that it reaches to that person (in some way or form) no matter how far the distance.   

It is tough getting into this habit, especially when your mind wants to start thinking about the rest of your day.

Presently, I choose to think more positive thoughts as soon as the alarm sings in the morning, I remember to say, “Thank you Universe for this amazing day, I intend that everything so amazingly well today.”

Change your thoughts

If we want to see a positive change in your life, you must start by getting into the habit of consciously choosing uplifting & positive thoughts.

Quick tips to stay present & conscious:

Say, “thank you” for small things such as running water, the sunlight or to the person who held the door for you.

Place a reminder on your phone or car that represents positive thinking

Go out in nature and take three deep breaths; clearing your mind for just a few minutes

Humbly walk away when gossip is around.

Turn off the news and pray (or send light) for the negative events going on.

Staying consistent in any area of which you trying to excel at is highly crucial as well.

It must become a habit in which you repeat the process every single day. It isn’t easy at first; a lot of people can tell you that.

However, the long-term rewards and the changes that happen within you is very much worth it.

Kimberly [Kimbundance] Jacinto is a self-improvement blogger who was inspired to encourage other people through helpful tips and thoughts which begin to better us from within. Practicing thoughts of gratitude and abundance into her life has really changed the way she views herself and the world around her. Her intention for her blog is to encourage and uplift all of those who visit her site.  You can also like her page on Facebook.  Photo credit nawywawy.

Do you consciously choose positive thoughts? Or do negative thoughts run amuck in your life? Please share with us in the comments below.

Malaysia Visit: Kota Bharu Temples

Malaysia Visit: Kota Bharu Temples

My life will forever be tied to Kota Bharu, Malaysia.

Yes, it’s officially the name I see on my birth certificate under birthplace.

But this also feels like the town of my spiritual birthplace.

Growing up, visits to Kota Bharu were always filled with audible Muslim prayers around town throughout the day, visits to the Hindu Sri Muthumarrian temple and plenty of 4 a.m. prayer time with my grandparents. Well, they prayed. I tried to stay awake.

I’m back once again visiting this northeastern Malaysian town that has so much family and spiritual significance to me. It’s also the place my great-grandfather moved to from India nearly 100 years ago.

Here are some photos of the Sri Muthumariamman temple from the Thai-border town of Tumpat. The South Indian Mother Goddess Mariamman, believed to have been found in the sands along the beach of the coastal town of Tumpat 100 years ago, resides here.

Like my friend Vidya who shares beautiful visits of temples in South India, I hope you enjoy a few photos below from my recent travels and temple visits.

Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha


Lakshmi- the Hindu Goddess of wealth

The 100+ year old Tumpat temple

The 100+ year old Tumpat temple

Decorative tower, gopuram, above the temple entrance.

Decorative tower, or gopuram, above the temple entrance

So many memories of Tumpat temple visits, which is about 30 km away from the main town of Kota Bharu. The last years in Kota Bharu have brought forth a more centrally-located temple, the Siva Subramaniyar temple. The temple opened in 2004 and serves the local Indian Hindu communities in the central part of town.  A few more pics:

The newest Kota Bharu addition.

The newest Kota Bharu addition


Hindu Gods welcoming visitors


Say What!?!

As I’m visiting temples and family in Kota Bharu, I hope you’re having a good summer too. Going anywhere interesting? Let me know in the comments below.

* Did you know that I post inspirational message and travel photos on Facebook. Add me and keep in touch:)

Run ‘em over with your Prius or hug ‘em tight? How to love everyone. (No sex involved)

Run ‘em over with your Prius or hug ‘em tight? How to love everyone. (No sex involved)


Let's just duel it out - winner keeps Brad.

“Inner Guide…I wholeheartedly welcome your guidance. I ask that you teach me to perceive everyone as equal, and to see everyone as love. Teach me love through every holy encounter.” Gabrielle Bernstein, May Cause Miracles

“You’re going to stop harassing Linda and allow her to do her work at her own pace,” I instructed the manager at the hospital.

“This is her workplace. She’s not going to be bullied by you or anyone else!”

The snarling manager who had it with me was on the phone, calling security to have me removed from his office and the hospital.

In my most inspiring and sacred job as a union organizer, I’ve had to get in the face of unruly managers plenty of times.

The people who steal your peace.

Many conversations have turned into shouting matches. Sometimes, the cops have shown up. The mutual feelings of animosity and anger were shared by all.

Not only in the workplace but every day of your life presents you with situations where you will be angry, frustrated or extremely annoyed with the people around you. 

You want to yank out her hair and strangle her. You want to pour a bucket of water on her lovely dress so she’s soaked, embarrassed and brought back to reality!

Not just your girl-friend but,

–       The rude clerk at the grocery store who refuses to give you a double coupon discount.

–       The hotel receptionist who insists on giving you a smoking room

–       Your co-worker who’s supposed to listen to your ideas but goes ahead and does whatever she pleases.

–       The obnoxious retail lady who shoo’s you off to the plus-sized dresses when you clearly don’t belong there.

–       The boy-friend who forgot your anniversary, birthday, Mother’s Day, boxing day, President’s Day and hey maybe, the murder-worthy day to forget – Valentine’s day.

Can you love the people who you’d rather run over with your Prius?

The ones who make you angry?

Frustrate you?

Judge you?

Cut you off in traffic? (I just cut someone off recently while driving – a nun of all people! A story for another day).

The people you get angry with daily and feel like beating up with your designer Alexander Mcqueen heels? Or run over with your Prius? Or want to throw over the bridge?

In my case, how do I come to love the people, the adversaries, who sometimes do horrible things to workers? How do I love them?

I know there’s a fine line between being a pushover and standing up for what you believe in but how I do I love the people I’m angry with?

How did Nelson Mandela survive prison to fight apartheid? Dolores Huerta endure strikes and fasts for workers? Wendy Davis stand up, without food or water, for 11 hours for her beliefs?

Leggo your Eggo Let go of your ego and chose love.

Sending out love makes you happier, reduces turmoil in your life and creates more harmony in the world. Loving others is also a way to celebrate the divinity in all people.

Gabrrielle Bernstein orders us to step back, put our hands behind our back, and reads us the Miranda rights. Well, she reads us our ego’s rights and how to incarcerate the pesky character.

“The intention of the ego is to maintain control over the perception that the other person is separate, through attack, judgment, jealousy, and so on,” she writes in her latest book, May Cause Miracles.

Gabby says that’s we’re protecting ourselves by thinking attack thoughts on others and by doing so, creating more attack. Yup, it’s a vicious cycle.

She pushes us to challenge our gargantuan egos which occupies our consciousness and radiate love instead.

The spiritual act of surrender releases you from the ego’s grip and opens up your consciousness to receive guidance. (Shift) the goal of the relationship from one in which you defend specialness and separation to one in which you experience oneness and wholeness.

Can you love more daily?  

To chose love more, you have to come to terms with your judgment and impressions of people. You have to notice what your default perception of people are.

Where does your mind go when you face rudeness, annoyance or arrogance?

Do you attack? Or let go and love?

Once you are aware, let me challenge you to love more.

Can you hold less grudges and forgive more trespasses against you?

Can you put yourself in another person’s shoes? Sympathize with them?

You can’t become a perfect human overnight. You’re going to get upset and angered by the countless transactions you have every day of your life. And want to put people in a neck brace. Don’t do that.

You’ve gotta use every opportunity to look at the situation with love. It’s a daily practice. Hell, it’s a minute by minute practice.

So, instead of feeling attacked, fearful or angry with someone, chose in that moment to love them.

The most improbable results manifest when you do this. I notice that when we treat the other person with love, the other person changes! Often, they respond more logically, kindly and with love themselves. It’s like a magic trick. Gabby would call it a miracle!

You can change the way someone behaves by treating them showering them with love. I’m not a woo-woo kind of guy who believes in tarot readings, divine signs and all this spiritual mumbo jumbo. What the &%#@…let me take that back.

That’s exactly the kind of guy I am but don’t allow that to undermine what I’m about to say.

Do this today:

1)    Confront your hatred, judgment and anger towards others. Acknowledge it and be aware of how you are responding to those closest around you. Not just in your personal life but everyone you interact with.

2)    Choose to react differently – chose love over fear. As Gabby suggests, set the intention of your relationship with the other person as one of finding peace and love, not attacking them.

Respond to every attack, judgment and negative perception of someone with Gabby’s mantra: “I am willing to see love instead of this.” When you’re lied to, frustrated, angry or upset by someone, chose to see love in the situation, instead of the ego-based thoughts.

3)    Chose love in every situation you’re wronged, challenged , rejected, hurt, misunderstood, labeled, you’re made fun of, talked about, lied to…

4)    Find more happiness, peace, love and joy in your life when you love someone you want to strangle.  Note how your internal world changes for the better. Notice how your external world is filled with more kindness, understanding and love.

How do you love someone who you makes you angry? Let me know in the comments below – one of you lucky comment-leaving souls will win a free copy of Gabby’s book, May Cause Miracles.

Photo credit: Radek Szuban