Lessons from a conversation with best-selling author Mitch Albom

Perhaps my best assignment ever as a writer has been getting to meet and chat with one of the world’s most beloved authors, Mitch Albom. Unknown to many, Albom was a musician and an award-winning sports journalist before he captured hearts and minds all over the world with the #1 New York Times bestseller, Tuesdays with Morrie.

After having published his latest novel, The First Phone Call from Heaven, Albom took the opportunity to visit the Philippines not only to promote his book, but also–and more importantly–to help rebuild libraries in the towns most heavily hit by supertyphoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda).

For this series of articles on Rappler.com, Mr. Albom and I talked about his library-rebuilding and charity efforts; his thoughts on success, fame; and happiness; and his candid thoughts on death, hope, and making every minute count in this life.

MEETING MITCH ALBOM IN MANILA: Niña Terol-Zialcita with best-selling author Mitch Albom & freelance photographer Toni Alvarez
MEETING MITCH ALBOM IN MANILA: Niña Terol-Zialcita with best-selling author Mitch Albom & freelance photographer Toni Alvarez | Photo courtesy of JB Roperos of National Bookstore, Philippines

I’ll be sharing some quotable quotes here, but please feel free to read and share the original features. (And please remember to vote on Rappler’s Mood Meter! :))

Part 1: Here to help: Why Mitch Albom decided to visit PH

"DONATION. The author aims to bring back reading materials in the typhoon ravaged area so children can enjoy books once more." | Photos courtesy of Toni Alvarez and National Bookstore, posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post
“DONATION. The author aims to bring back reading materials in the typhoon ravaged area so children can enjoy books once more.” | Photos courtesy of Toni Alvarez and National Bookstore, posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post

“Not only do I want to call attention to these efforts to rebuild these libraries… I’ve [also] called upon my fellow authors in America to donate 10 books apiece of their own books.”

In just one day, he got pledges from “a good 10 to 12” authors, including Stephen King (The Shining), Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent), James McBride (The Good Lord Bird), and Ridley Pearson (The Kingdom Keepers series).

“I’m also going to go after (John) Grisham, James Patterson…I’m not going to stop until I get them to say yes. I’m pretty sure they will. So I want to be able to go there on Monday and say that… all of these American authors want to show their support for getting back to regular life, which for us is being able to go and take a book from the library.”

Read the full post HERE.

Here’s another quotable quote from this piece that I love:

A quotable quote by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Designed on Canva.com
A quotable quote by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Designed on Canva.com

Part 2: Finding meaning in work, life; 5 lessons to learn from Mitch Albom

"REMARKABLE. Mitch Albom would not 'cheapen' Morrie by writing a sequel. Instead, he explored his own skill set and listened to his instincts – just like Morrie taught him. Photo by Toni Alvarez" | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post
“REMARKABLE. Mitch Albom would not ‘cheapen’ Morrie by writing a sequel. Instead, he explored his own skill set and listened to his instincts – just like Morrie taught him. Photo by Toni Alvarez” | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post

A lot of quotable quotes from this article! Watch Mr. Albom share his thoughts on failure, success, fame, and happiness in his own voice 🙂

Here’s another quote that I love from this second piece:

A quotable quote on success by Mitch Albom, share with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com
A quotable quote on success by Mitch Albom, share with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com

Read the full post HERE.

Part 3: Mitch Albom: Thoughts on death, making every minute count

"MITCH ALBOM. 'I’m not ready for it; I don’t think anybody’s ready for it… Nobody knows until they face it,' he says, about death and dying. Photo by Toni Alvarez | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post
“MITCH ALBOM. ‘I’m not ready for it; I don’t think anybody’s ready for it… Nobody knows until they face it,’ he says, about death and dying. Photo by Toni Alvarez | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post

For this piece, Mr. Albom shared some candid thoughts on death and “leaving too soon”, but he also spoke of despair and hope. Watch this video for more insights:

Here’s another great quotable quote:

A quotable quote on death and making life count by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com
A quotable quote on death and making life count by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com

Read the full post HERE.

Liked what you saw and watched here? 🙂 Feel free to share it with those who need a little picker-upper in their days. 🙂

P.S. To learn more about Mitch Albom’s charity work in the Philippines, read his latest website post, or visit A Hole in the Roof Foundation.

8 Powerful Spoken Word Performances for Women

First of all, let me take this opportunity to greet every woman out here for International Women’s Day 🙂

Happy International Women's Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com
Happy International Women’s Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com

As some of you may already have gathered from reading some of my previous posts, I’m a fan of spoken word poetry and have dabbled in a bit of spoken word myself. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2014, I share here a curated list of eight powerful spoken word performances that I believe every empowered woman must watch in order to remind her of her true worth in this world.

(Be warned: some of them are pretty intense stuff; I’ve cried watching them!)

If you love what you see here, please feel free to pass it on 🙂

1. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter (I’m obviously a Sarah Kay fan!)

2. Lily Myers: Shrinking Women (a great counterpoint performance to #1)

3. Sonya Renee:  The Body is Not an Apology

4. Katie Makkai: Pretty

5. Alicia Keys: P.O.W. (from her book, Tears for Water)

6. Becca Khalil and Nayo Jones: Ambiguous (for anyone who’s had to deal with rude questions on race)

7. Thea Monyee: Woman to Woman (for anyone who’s ever had to deal with ‘that girl’)

8. Najia Muhammad-Jaaber: Live Before You Die and Beat the Drum (An awesome spoken word performance by a female Muslim spoken word artist–what a revelation!)

Believe me, there is sooo much more good stuff where those came from, so I’ll be sure to post more spoken word performances in this blog. (To all Pinoys looking for more Filipino spoken word performances, stay tuned for material from Speak Philippines in Niña’s Notebook!)

Answer these questions and define your own passions

Over a year ago, I was asking myself some life questions and came up with this doodle.

"PASSION" | Scribble by Niña Terol-Zialcita (2012)
“PASSION” | Scribble by Niña Terol-Zialcita (2012)

I’d like to invite you to answer these same questions and reflect on what it says about you, your life mission, and your current priorities. I feel like for me, NOW is the perfect time to answer this again and see how things have changed since the time I drew this.

I’ll definitely be sharing my answers on this blog. In the meantime, consider this my way of wishing you all a HAPPY WEEKEND! 🙂

 

Poetry: “You are not Broken”

First Wednesdays of the month are Poetry Slam nights for my favorite hangout, Sev’s Café (which I affectionately call my “unofficial living and dining room”). The “slam” consists of a competition for amateur spoken word artists and poets, while the open mic portion–as the name suggests–welcomes anyone and everyone who wishes to share a piece (or more!).

Here is a piece I’ve done for both the slam and our open mic sessions. I wrote it shortly after supertyphoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) flattened many coastal towns in the Visayas region in the Philippines. It was meant to encourage the typhoon’s survivors, but as I was writing it I also realized that I needed to write it in order to deal with my own brokenness. (And who among us isn’t broken in some way, right?)

I unfortunately don’t have a clear-enough video recording of me performing the piece, but once I do I’ll also post it here.

"Self-Portrait #2" by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)
“Self-Portrait #2” by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)

YOU ARE NOT BROKEN

by Niña Terol-Zialcita

 

Repeat after me:

 

YOU. ARE NOT. BROKEN.

 

I know that, right now,
It’s pretty hard to believe.
After all,
Didn’t a storm just
Wash away
Everything you had?
Left you with
Absolutely nothing
Except what’s standing
On your feet?

 

Didn’t a
Global catastrophe
Crush you–
Shatter you
Rip apart your
Hopes and dreams, and
Bring you to your knees?

 

You feel broken,
All right.
Pretty damn
Ripped
And bruised
And pounded
To bits.
And abso-fuckin’-lutely
Broken.

 

BUT YOU ARE NOT.

 

What you
Need to know
Is that the very same
World
That you fear
Is the very same world
That is cheering–
Pushing you
To go on,
Believing
In everything you’ve got–
Even when you think
You’ve got
Abso-fuckin’-lutely
Nothing left.

 

Because
You’ve got heart
You’ve got soul
You’ve got strength
You’ve got
The fucking courage
To stand back up
On your feet
And the resilience
To tell the
Whole wide
Fucking World

 

NO ONE–
ABSOLUTELY NO ONE–
WILL BRING ME DOWN
BECAUSE MY FAITH
IS STRONGER
THAN YOUR WINDS
AND MY GOD IS
STRONGER THAN
ANY FUCKING STORM.

 

YOU CAN PUSH ME,
DROWN ME–
YOU CAN TRY
TO SHRED ME TO BITS.
BUT YOU. WILL NOT. BREAK ME.

 

YOU WILL NOT BREAK ME.

 

I am bruised, yes–
Scarred, forever–
I am writhing
In pain
And screaming
For redemption
But I remain
WHOLE.
As sure as
My soul
Still sings
As sure as
My body feels
The stings–

 

I AM HERE
I AM WHOLE

 

I have fears
But I, too,
Have hope

 

And I
AM NOT
BROKEN.
AND YOU
DON’T HAVE
THE POWER
TO BREAK ME.

 

Take a step back
Look at yourself
And know
That you are whole
Because
You are loved
Whether you see it
Or not
Whether you know it
Or not

 

YOU ARE LOVED

 

YOU ARE WHOLE

 

YOU
ARE NOT
BROKEN.

 

If you liked this piece and would like to share it, feel free to post a comment here or tweet me at @ninaterol. I’d be happy to share it, given the proper attribution. 🙂

 

Want to see more spoken word pieces from the Philippines, check out the YouTube channel of SPEAK PHILIPPINES (SPEAK Phils). You can also click on their Facebook page. You can also catch us TONIGHT at SEV’s CAFE, at the basement of Legaspi Towers 300, Vito Cruz corner Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila. Visit the Facebook page to view the map and other event and reservation details. 🙂
Speak Phils

A Tuesday with Mitch Albom

Two of Mitch Albom's popular and best-selling books | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
Two of Mitch Albom’s popular and best-selling books | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita

I was such a huge fan of Tuesdays with Morrie, the New York Times bestseller about professor Morrie Schwartz’s lessons on dying and death, as experienced and written by his student, Mitch Albom. Like many of Albom’s readers, I had always regarded him as an inspirational writer whose works are “must-reads” and “must-shares.”

So imagine my surprise (and elation!) when I got a call from my Rappler editor, asking if I would take on an assignment interviewing Albom during his trip to the Philippines. My answer was inelegant, and started with: OMG!!!

Fast forward to that afternoon, and I was fortunate enough to have been given 30 full minutes with Mr. Albom. We talked about his latest book, The First Phone Call from Heaven; his trip to the Philippines to rebuild libraries in Haiyan-flattened communities; his thoughts on success and fame; what keeps him grounded; and what he thinks of death and dying, seeing that he’s written a number of books about them.

Mitch Albom and Me ;)
Mitch Albom and Me ;)

My latest article from that interview is now out, and I’ll share an excerpt here:

“Tuesdays with Morrie was a book that most people didn’t want. I only wrote that book to pay Morrie’s medical bills,” Albom confessed.

“Everywhere I went… they told me, ‘No.’ ‘It’s a stupid idea.’ ‘It’s boring.’ ‘It’s depressing.’ ‘You can’t write it; you’re a sports writer.’ Almost everywhere I went, they told me, ‘Not interested.’ And I only pushed because I was trying to pay Morrie’s medical bills, and I couldn’t take no for an answer.”

Albom’s love and respect for his teacher, coupled with his dogged persistence, paid off. Tuesdays with Morrie not only paid for Morrie Schwartz’s medical bills, it also went on to sell 14 million copies in 41 languages worldwide, and was later on produced into a television movie by no less than Oprah Winfrey, winning 4 Emmy Awards. The book has also spun an Off-Broadway play and has been able to fund a number of charity efforts as well.

I shared a lot more in that piece–and will sharing a bit more in the coming days. In the meantime, I hope you can take time to read the full article… and I hope that you’ll be as inspired in reading it as I was when I wrote it. 🙂

Calling all Ateneo alumni! You can still submit creative work to Heights!

Calling all Ateneo alumni! Do you have creative pieces that have been locked up in your drawers and hidden hard drive folders, waiting to be dusted off and shared with the world? Heights has an open call for submissions until January 4, 2014–and we can still be part of it!

2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details
2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details

Here are the mechanics, taken from the Heights website:

FOR CONTRIBUTIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT

You need not be a Heights member to contribute.

Heights accepts contributions year-round; however, there are deadlines for special issues (e.g. Seniors Folio).

You may contribute more than once.

All submitted and solicited works undergo staff deliberations. Works are published based on merit. The author’s identity is kept confidential.

MECHANICS FOR SUBMISSION

Write SUBMISSION as the subject of your e-mail.

Attach your work to the message. For written works, there are no limitations for the number of pages. Artworks should be in CMYK format with a resolution of 300 dpi. If you feel the need to include an artist’s statement, please do so.

Include a short bio-note or write-up, and your contact details.

SEND YOUR QUERIES AND ARTISTIC AND LITERARY WORKS

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

Disclaimer: I am neither a member nor an alumna of Heights, but I’ve been a fan of their work through the decades and just want to share the message. Please direct your queries to the email addresses above. Thanks!

Have you been to any of the World’s 10 Greenest Cities? Tell me more!

Do you live in (or have you recently been to) any of these cities?

Reykjavik, Iceland - The top greenest city in the world, according to Mother Nature Network
Reykjavik, Iceland – The top greenest city in the world, according to Mother Nature Network | Photo courtesy of Mother Nature Network
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • San Francisco, California
  • Malmö, Sweden
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Curitiba, Brazil
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Bogotá, Colombia
In March 2012, a group called the Mother Nature Network named these cities the 10 greenest cities in the world.

The cities were chosen for “encompassing all of the positive qualities that make urban living more healthy, pleasant and sensitive to nearby ecosystems.” They were also chosen “based on their use of renewable energy, high concentrations of clean-tech companies, promotion of green lifestyles, laws that protect the environment and innovative strategies for new green communities.”

I’m writing a piece on the greenest cities, and what I’d like to know are the following:
  • What makes these cities great for tourists, too?
  • Are there any outstanding places of natural beauty in each of these cities? Or really cool “green spots” that have also attracted tourists? How about “green activities” that are also great for travelers?
  • If you could pick just one über-cool and must-do activity or must-see spot in these cities, what would that be?

Post your comment here, or drop me a line at [email protected], using the subject [10 Greenest Cities], with the following information:

  • Your name, which city you’re referring to
  • Your profession
  • Answers to the above questions
  • Any other helpful information
  • Your primary email address

I hope to finish the article within a week, so please send me your answers and photos by Saturday, August 24, 2013. Thank you very much! 🙂